Planned auction of furniture from St. Petersburg Winter Palace may not go ahead after all
The auction scheduled for today at the Bukowski auction house in Helsinki, featuring furniture items from the Czar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, may not go ahead as planned.
Christian Boman, CEO of Bukowski's, reported that there has been a dispute over the ownership of the items concerned.
The sale or otherwise of the artefacts will be resolved only shortly before the auction is due to begin at 3 p.m. this afternoon.
In the background to the dispute is an estate settlement that took place decades ago and in which the value of the items - an 11-piece suite of furniture - was set at a small fraction of the EUR 100,000 to 150,000 Bukowski estimate.
The suite of furniture comes from a home where it has been for nearly 30 years and from a family in whose possession it has been since at least the 1930s.
It was known to be old and originally from Russia, but no thought was given to its actual financial worth.
For example, the family dog regularly slept on a chair that is now valued at more than EUR 10,000.
The furniture, made in 1894, was ordered for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and was the first commission made by Nikolai II and his wife Alexandra Fedorovna, the former Alix of Hesse.
There were originally 15 items, but four are still missing.
Ten years after the Russian Revolution in 1927 the Soviet government began to sell off items belonging to the Czar's family in order to secure much-needed foreign currency.
Apparently among the items for sale were the ornate table and chairs now up for auction at Bukowski's, where they are listed as Lot 325 in the house's two-day International Spring Sale.
The sale has been widely noted in advance by news services around the world, and has also been the subject of radio and television discussions in Russia itself.
Bukowski press release (.pdf file)