Secret Treasure in St Petersburg

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Image from: Intarsia

A treasure trove of precious items which were hidden on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution was discovered by the construction company Intarsia last week in St Petersburg. The amazing collection was hidden in a secret room in a mansion previously owned by one of Russia’s most famous noble dynasties, the Naryshkins, a noble Russian dynasty to which the mother of Tsar Peter the Great belonged.

The secret treasure of over 1,000 items included Russian and European silver dinner sets, military awards, and jewelry such as silver travel sets, mirrors and brushes in silver frames, French knives with pearl and porcelain handles and other porcelain objects. Amazingly all the pieces were in pristine condition as they had been wrapped in cloths soaked in vinegar.

It is still unclear if the treasure was in fact the property of the Naryshkin family as documents belonging to army officer Sergei Somov were also found with the collection. However, it is unlikely that any of the descendants from the Naryshkin family will come forward to claim the treasure.

Image from: Intarsia

Investigators also found a box containing 72 spoons and forks hidden in another area and construction workers smuggled out at least three gilded trays with the Naryashkin crest on them in sacks with garbage from their reconstruction work and then placed the sacks with the garbage hoping to collect the treasure later. However, by Russian law, the construction workers who discovered the treasure are entitled to half of it and the treasure should be divided into equal parts between the owner of the property on which it was found and people who found it. However, if the objects discovered are identified as having cultural or historical value, they will be given to the state and the owner and those who found them will have to split half of the cost of what the treasure is worth.

It is likely that most of the items will be donated to a museum for public viewing.  During the past 200 years, more than 55 treasure troves have been unexpectedly discovered in St. Petersburg and just before the Bolshevik Revolution many wealthy families hid their money jewelry, and other treasures in their homes. For example, 144 kilograms of gold bars were discovered in the historical department store, Gostiny Dvor, in 1985. Also, in 1981 several small children found 94 gold coins from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which were hidden inside a piece of furniture.

After the Naryshkin mansion has been fully restored it will be utilized for business and cultural activities including a restaurant on the first floor. The mansion is located on Ulitsa Chaikovskogo in the city center.

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