Royal Jewelry Smuggled Out Of Russia During The 1917 Revolution Put Up For Auction

Royal jewelry smuggled out of Russia during the 1917 revolution, alongside rare colored diamonds, will be auctioned next week in Geneva.

The star of the first lot auctioned by Sotheby's is a 25.62-carat orange-pink diamond mounted on a ring along with two others. Its price is estimated at 3.6 - 5.4 million Swiss francs (about 3.9 - 5,9 million dollars) and the sale will be in Geneva on Nov. 10.

"A beautiful crystal, it's a fantastic color with a little bit of orange but not too much, so it's a very subtle color," Olivier Wagner, head of sale and jewelry expert at Sotheby's Geneva, told Reuters.

"The market is currently very dynamic and after the pandemic people are very keen to buy jewelry today and to buy something tangible they can enjoy", Wagner added.

For deep-pocketed collectors in love with historical gemstones, a brooch with sapphires and diamonds and matching earrings from the jewelry collection of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the aunt of the last Russian monarch Nicholas II, will be on sale.

"They belonged to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia who was the queen of social life in St. Petersburg. She was the wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir, so the son of the tsar (Alexander II), and she had a fantastic collection of jewels," Wagner said.

The set of royal jewelry the Grand Duchess entrusted to the British diplomat Albert Henry Stopford, her friend, who took them to London to be kept together with other jewelry, is estimated at 280,000 - 480,000 Swiss francs.

Pavlovna escaped from Russia and died in France in 1920. Her brooch and earrings are being sold by a European princely family, who bought them at auction in 2019.

Next week, online, Sotheby's will also sell luxury items that belonged to celebrities, such as bags named for movie stars Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin and sports shoes worn by Kobe Bryant.

The Tragic Story Of The Russian Royal Family

The Romanov family was executed by the Bolsheviks in Russia, ending a 300-year imperial dynasty.
Royal Jewelry Smuggled Out Of Russia During The 1917 Revolution Auction
In March 1917, revolution broke out on the streets of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), and Czar Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne later that month.

In November, the radical socialist Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized power in Russia and set about establishing the world’s first communist state.

After being forced to abdicate, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were sent to Western Siberia, Tobolsk. In the former Governor's mansion, the imperial family lived in decent conditions and was treated with respect by the guards. But at the end of the year, after the Bolshevik Revolution broke out, the Romanovs were moved to Ekaterinburg, and the conditions of their imprisonment worsened as the new government began to debate the possibility of judging and executing the former emperor.

When the anti-Bolshevik "White Army" legions advanced on Yekaterinburg, where Nicholas and his family were located, local authorities were ordered to prevent a rescue of the Romanovs, and after a secret meeting of the Yekaterinburg Soviet, the imperial family was sentenced to death.

On the evening of July 16, the tsar and his daughters took a short walk through the garden, after which they retired to their rooms. That night, immediately after midnight, members of the imperial family were awakened and told to get dressed and go down. They were told that the Soviets had decided to move them due to problems in the city, and asked them to wait in a room until the arrival of the truck with which they were to be transported. Four of the servants were brought with them.
The Slaughter of the Russian Royal Family

Shortly afterward, armed Cheka officers burst into the room and announced to the prisoners that they had been sentenced to death. The officers opened fire, killing the Tsar, his wife, and Olga, Tatiana, and Maria, as well as three of the servants.
Housewife Anna Demidova and young Alexei were killed with a bayonet. Anastasia, the last survivor, was hit with a rifle and stabbed with a bayonet.

It was not easy for the Bolsheviks to get rid of the corpses. They were dumped into an abandoned well. Several grenades were thrown into the well, causing it to collapse, but to no avail. The bodies were later moved to another well, hoping that they would be better hidden there, not before the officers tried to destroy their faces with sulfuric acid, to prevent the recognition of the dead. Because the second well also proved inadequate, the bodies were finally hidden in a deep pit on July 19.

Two days later, the Bolshevik press published the official announcement of the execution. According to the announcement, the monarch had been executed by order of the local Soviet, under pressure from Czechoslovak forces to approach the city. Official reports blame the decision on local authorities, but Trotsky writes in his diary that the execution took place at Lenin's behest.

The remains of Nicholas, Alexandra, and three of their children were excavated in a forest near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and positively identified two years later using DNA fingerprinting. The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, fueling the persistent legend that Anastasia, the youngest Romanov daughter, had survived the execution of her family.

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