Press Conference Over a Diadem Linked to the History of the House of Romanovs
On 1 March 2004 a press conference was held to present a unique diadem, which is one of Russia’s artistic and historical relics. In 1891 Sofia Nikolaevna Mehrenberg, the granddaughter of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, was married in San Remo to Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich. The bride was given a golden diadem as a gift from her groom.
The diadem was made on order of the Grand Duke by master craftsmen at K.E. Bolin & Company, one of the most famous jewelry houses of those years, whose owners were court jewelers to six Russian emperors over a period of two hundred years, right up to 1916, and then served Swedish monarchs.
Sofia Nikolaevna was the daughter of Natalya Aleksandrovna Pushkin, the younger daughter of the poet, and of Prince Nikolai Wilhelm of Nassau. The first marriage of Natalya Nikolaevna ended in divorce. Prince Nikolai Wilhelm of Nassau was her second husband. Inasmuch as the granddaughter of Alexander Pushkin was not a person of royal blood, marriage did not give her the right to a place in the ducal family of Nassau. Natalya Aleksandrovna was given the title of Countess of Mehrenberg. Her son by the Prince of Nassau married the daughter of Alexander II by his marriage to Princess Ekaterina Dolgoruki, while her daughter married Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich.
This marriage was not recognized by Alexander III given the apparent discrepancy in rank and origin of the partners. In the given situation the newlyweds could not remain in Russia. Sofia Nikolaevna and Mikhail Mikhailovich left for England. And the diadem left with them.
Queen Victoria granted Sofia Nikolaevna and her progeny the title of Countess and Count de Torby and ever since then the diadem has remained as a family treasure of this dynasty.
The present owner of the diadem, Marchioness Sarah of Milford Haven, decided to part with the family heirloom. Remembering the family legend, according to which the diadem ought to return to Russia and in full knowledge of its historical value, the heiress turned for advice to a friend, the well known Russian entrepreneur Artem Mikhailovich Tarasov. Artem Mikhailovich asked the owner to postpone selling the diadem, made a security deposit and paid the insurance from his own pocket, and also guaranteed its safekeeping by a lien on his real estate holdings in London.
At present this treasure has been given on temporary loan to A. M. Tarasov, who plans to collect the funds still needed to return this Russian relic to its homeland. For this purpose he has created the Charitable Fund for the “Salvation of National Cultural and Historical Treasures’.
For a month starting on 1 March 2004 the diadem will be exhibited in the Jewelry Gallery - 1 (the Diamond Room) of the State Hermitage.
Charitable Fund for the ‘Salvation of National Cultural and Historical Treasures’
The Charitable Fund for the ‘Salvation of National Cultural and Historical Treasures’ was officially registered on 16 December 2003. Its founder and president is the Russian entrepreneur Artem Mikhailovich Tarasov.
The objective of the charitable activity of the Fund is to assist in the repatriation to the Russian Federation of items having great cultural and historical value. Concretely this means searching for and acquiring monuments abroad with the purpose of transferring them to the Russian state.
A program called ‘Return of the Relic’ is the first activity of the Fund. Its task is to return to Russia a diadem which is linked with the House of Romanovs and which has been abroad for more than 100 years.
Address of the Fund for the ‘Salvation of National Cultural and Historical Treasures’:
Briusov per., 2/14, bldg 5, Moscow 103009; tel: +7 (095) 229-6408
Bank Account Open for Charitable Contributions: