Furniture From the Winter Palace
Found in Finland
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An 11-piece set from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg went on display on Friday (March 27) ahead of the May auction.
The furniture was found in Finland and will be the highlight of Bukowski's International Spring Auction on May 13-14 in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
The furniture originally adorned the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's Silvery salon in the palace on the bank of the River Neva where the family spent the winter months.
Bukowski's director Christian Bowman said many people were interested, including the Winter Palace that sent their curator to Helsinki.
"They immediately sent from the Winter Palace their curator for the furniture here to look at it and verify it, they absolutely wanted it back, but the question is do they have the money, and can they get the money for it?," Bowman said. He also said he did not think the world wide financial downturn would have much effect on the price the furniture would fetch because of its rarity.
"Of course we can't say that it doesn't effect us in any ways, but as you saw in the Yves Saint-Laurent auction in Paris the really good stuff, the really top objects, there are always a lot of buyers for those," Bowman said.
The silver-plated furniture was made in the master N.F. Svirsky's carpentry shop in Saint Petersburg in 1894, after the Imperial marriage. The pieces were designed by the architect N.V. Nabokov, who designed all the interiors of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna's private quarters, including the curtains.
The inventory numbers on the furniture indicate that there were a total of 15 pieces of furniture, with four still missing.
But this discovery means that all the Winter Palace furniture has been identified, except for the furniture in the Emperor and Empress's bedroom and the missing pieces from the silvered set.
After the Imperial family's rule had ended, in the 1920's, the Bolsheviks sold off the treasures from the Winter Palace, including the furniture. A Finnish family bought the set in the 1920's and the furniture stayed in the family and was used as any normal furniture up until now.
"It came in the 1920's, bought by the ancestors of the third generation in the family that owns this set of furniture, it has been in normal use, there has been a bulldog laying in one of the sofas, there have been children playing on these and so on," said Bukowski's curator Maria Ekman-Kolari. Ekman-Kolari said the discovery of the furniture was a big happening in the antiques world.
"This is the biggest of course Russian moment of my life, but it's also a big Russian moment of the Russian people, a big Russian moment of this whole antique business to find items like that that you thought never would be found anymore," she said. The German-born princess Alix of Hesse married Nikolai II, the last Emperor of Russia, in 1894. When Princess Alix joined the Russian Orthodox Church she became Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova.
29 March, 2009
Watch the video for the whole story about this historic find and the controversy behind it. Source: Russia Today
“The furniture was removed because of a conflict over the ownership between the client selling the furniture and his relatives, which is a common occurrence in our work,” said the executive director of the Bukowski Auction House.
He added that representatives from the Romanovs, the last tsar family in Russia, are not a part of the conflict.
The actual value of the furniture is also being disputed as the family dog was known to have regularly slept on a chair that today is being valued at €10,000.
15 May, 2009