Imperial Jewelry Smuggled Out Of Russia During The Revolution Sold For $ 900K

A brooch with sapphires and diamonds and a pair of matching ear clips that once belonged to the Romanov imperial dynasty of Russia were sold on Wednesday at an auction for almost $ 900,000.

The jewels, which belonged to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920), the aunt of the last Tsar Nicholas II, were secretly smuggled out of Russia during the 1917 revolution in which the Tsar, his wife, and their children were massacred by the Bolshevik.

The Auction Organized By Sotheby'- A Rare Event

The famous house says it is rare that jewelry pieces with such a rich history are put up for auction and that "the appearance of these stunning sapphire and diamond pieces sparked interest from collectors worldwide."
Imperial Jewelry Smuggled Out Of Russia During The Revolution Sold
Picture Credit: Sotheby's 
The jewelry was sold for 806,500 Swiss francs (about $ 885,000) at an auction in Geneva, well above its estimated value of $ 300,000-500,000.


Created around 1900, the brooch contains an oval-shaped sapphire from Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, weighing 26.8 carats. The ear clips have step-cut sapphires weighing 6.69 and 9.36 carats.

The Dramatic Story Of The Jewelry

During the Russian Revolution, Maria Pavlovna, who had a legendary passion for jewelry, entrusted her valuables to the British diplomat Albert Henry Stopford.

Dressed in women's clothing, Stopford had picked up jewelry from St. Vladimir's Palace in St. Petersburg. Petersburg. The diplomat, who was also an antique dealer, dismantled them and then carefully folded the pieces into old newspapers for protection.

Stopford left Russia for London on September 26, 1917, carrying 244 pieces of the Duchess's jewelry in a bag. Among them were the brooch and earrings put up for auction in Switzerland, but also the famous Vladimir tiara, now owned by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

"After an incredible journey through all the countries of Scandinavia, he arrived in London by boat, where he deposited the jewels in a bank safe," Sotheby's head of sale Olivier Wagner told AFP before Wednesday's auction.

Pavlovna often referred to as "Queen of St. Petersburg" was one of the last members of the Romanov house to leave Russia when she finally fled the country in 1919.

She passed away a year later, and the jewelry was inherited by her daughter, Princess Elena of Greece and Denmark. These were then passed on to the family until they were first put up for auction in Geneva by Sotheby's in 2009.

At the time, they were bought by a European aristocratic family for nearly $ 500,000.

Besides the grand duchess's jewels, the biggest-ticket item during Wednesday's sale was a set of two identical square-cut diamond earrings, sold for nearly $5.7 million.

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