Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 21:46:16
25 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Bid for the Best Backfires

Author: Marie Betteley

Mar/Apr 2017
Page 46   ( 4 pages)

Summary: A decade before the fall of tsarism, a little-known auction was held to sell off some of the crown jewels. Was it rigged?


Lest we think the cash-strapped Bolsheviks were alone in selling off Imperial Jewels, we have only to look at a bit further into history to find an interesting precedent. The year 1906 was one of turmoil in Russia. Following the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Revolution, state coffers were depleted. Peasant and worker unrest swept the land. And, ominously, in both 1904 and 1905 Tsar Nicholas II had chosen not to order an Easter egg by Fabergé.

This was a sure sign of trouble at the highest level.

A new law was enacted on March 8, 1906, on “Rules for the Review of State Expenditures.” For the first time, the Ministry of the Imperial Court was to have limited access to the Imperial Treasury. Funds for the upkeep of the tsar’s family and the entire ministry were to be frozen, which led to severe belt-tightening.

What was to be done? Well, why not sell the gems in Treasury No. 2 of the Cameral Department of the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty?

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