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© Restoration company "Intars"

Workers find secret stash of pre-revolutionary treasure

by Alina Lobzina at 30/03/2012 18:43

 

A secret room in a former home of a prince’s family in St. Petersburg revealed a hidden treasure after it was uncovered by restoration workers, the local police branch reported on Thursday.

Three sets of antique silverware, medals and jewelry pieces were immured in Prince Naryshkin’s house since the 1917 revolution, when the family fled to the West.

The collection is to be delivered to a local museum for restoration, but after the mansion’s renovations are completed it will be returned to the house on Ulitsa Tchaikovskogo, where it was found, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported. The Pavlovsk estate has been named among most likely places for the temporary storage of the vast collection, according to the daily.

 

Thousands of items

The walled up niche between the second and the third floor was found by the workers on Tuesday night, but the police were only informed the next day, according to Gazeta.ru.

In total, the three dinner sets from 1872, 1914 and 1915 had over 1,000 pieces each and some items had Naryshkin’s coat of arms on them. Many of them were wrapped in newspapers from August-September 1917, and bigger items, like silver samovars were kept in boxes with pieces of cloth bearing the smell of vinegar.

An expert from the committee for the state control on the use and protection of historical and cultural monuments told Gazeta.ru this might have been done to safe the family belongings from oxidizing.

 

Heirs to the collection

Naryshkin’s living heirs might want their knives and forks back, and St. Petersburg based lawyer Konstantin Fyodorov, who also claims to be a descendant of the noble family, said he was ready to lend them a hand.

But despite the fact that Fyodorov, the president of the Naryshkin’s Lawyers Association, was keen to represent his relatives in court, experts are dubious about his likelihood of success.

The last member of the family branch, which lived in the house, died in France in the middle of the 20th century, Igor Sakharov, head of the Institute for Genealogical Studies, told Fontanka.ru.

 

Finders keepers

The firm in charge of the restoration of the 17th century building, which was owned by Prince Pyotr Trubetskoi before Vasily Naryskin bought it in the second half of the 19th century, is more likely to get some reward for finding the treasure.

According to the Russian law, it could receive up to 50 percent of its market value, which is yet to be established.

“At present, this rather big collection is being inventorized,” a spokesman at the Intarsia company told RIA Novosti. The question of compensation is to be decided on when all the formalities are settled, Gazeta.ru reported.

 

 

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