Author Topic: Returning Former Property?  (Read 8278 times)

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Offline Forum Admin

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Returning Former Property?
« on: April 05, 2004, 12:12:25 PM »
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Along Antonio's line....does the possibility exist that the Russian government "might" give back some of the stolen estates or family possessions???  I'm sure once they started there may be no stopping.  :-/

This deserves its own topic so I moved it here. It is not related to the Rasputin thread it was posted in.

Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2004, 01:20:21 PM »
I was once told in Petersburg that the Sheremetiev Palace along with other palaces was being claimed by the family...but iīm not sure itīs true. Princess Paley had a hard time when her and her husband grand duke Paulīs art collection from the Paley palace in Tsarskoe was sold by auction in London on June 6th- 7th and July 1th-2th of 1929. She even was photographed in the auction showroom, seated by her clavecin, that had belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette...She simply couldnīt stop the sale.
The Stroganov collection was also sold, this time by the Lepkeīs auction house in Berlin in May 6th,9th, and 11th of 1931.
Many times the things went for very low prices or even were left without buyer. A sad destiny for so many great art collections and the empied palaces left behind...

Antonio.

Offline JM

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2004, 01:34:09 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jmentanko »

Offline Reed

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2004, 04:06:21 PM »
Interesting article.  I noticed it was published in 1998.  I wonder if there have been any further developments on a law regarding restitution?  It must be heart breaking to see your ancestral home in ruins!!

Offline 3710

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2004, 10:55:58 AM »
I have not heard about any restitution laws so far.
Antonio, imagine for a second that Scheremetiev Palace is returned to it's rightful owners(?). Who can afford the maintenance of such piece of real estate now? The remaining contents(there is not much, I must admit) will soon be in Nick's office or, if Russia is lucky, bought by another Vekselberg. There is a rather nice music museum there with a concert hall now, much enjoyed by all.
If it was a residential building, what do you suggest should be done to inhabitants? In Latvia people were just kicked out of houses they lived in for a long time (surely investing something in renovation etc) How fair is that?
I have huge respect for the first wave of immigration, but not so sure that their distant relations can claim something now (Like Xenia Sfiris).
Can I also mention that it was  not just Romanovs/aristocracy who have lost property in Soviet times. Think of ''raskulachivanie'' - millions of peasants were effected. On the subject of which - should I insist on my grandfather's 3 cows and a house to be returned? I think I will manage without........
Mescherskie were lucky to be well received by local residents. Imagine if the land they claim has been in use etc? No, it smells another redestribution/Revolution. We had enough.
Galina

Offline Nick_Nicholson

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2004, 11:15:23 AM »
Dear all,

In New York, I am lucky enough to know members of dozens of families who are descendants of Russians who had vast holdings before the revolution.

Not one of these people has ever filed a claim since 1991, for the following reasons which have been explained to me; there is no point in imperiling or impeding the progress of the development of a representative government in Russia by clogging up its offices with bitter demands for property or land restitution.  Two, many of the most important palaces are already the property of the state, and are used as schools, hospitals, museums, and other organizations designed to benefit the Russian people.

The only thing which many people have said is that in the collections of the State Hermitage and Russian Museums, they hope to seee their families appropriately recognized as having formed the collections; nationalized possessions form an enormous part of the Russian Patrimony at this point, and it wouldn't hurt anyone to add a label which read "Formerly in the Bariyatinsky collections,"  or "Portrait of Elizaveta Shuvalova" rather than "portrait of a girl."

Baroness Helene de Luydinghausen, whose mother is the last of the Scherbatoff-Stroganovs, has made a career for herself raising funds for the Russian Museum's restoration of the Stroganov palace, and trying to get the Hermitage and State Russian museum to put the things now in their collections back into the Stroganov Palace (take a look at the Foundation's website, you can link on the first page...)

Most Russian noble descendants I know are content to finally be allowed to return to Russia to work, live, or even visit as guests--a privelege denied them for decades.

Nick
Nick Nicholson
New York City

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2004, 11:46:45 AM »
This is fascinating news, Nick!

I'm assuming that the descendants you're referring to have sufficient financial means so that they do not need to reclaim property, etc., taken away from previous generations.

It is especially good of them not to want to disloge schools, hospitals and the like, and hopefully their families will receive the nominal recognition that you mentioned.

Somehow, at some point after horrible situations such as the Revolution, reconciliation needs to begin. It sounds like many of the people you know understand that and are putting aside whatever bitterness may still linger.  Not the easiest thing to do, and I admire them for it!

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2004, 11:54:39 AM »
There is also another "category" of Noble descendants. Those who pretty much don't care about their history.  I am friendly with the direct descendants of one of the five most noble families of Imperial Russia (name witheld for their privacy).  The son would be "Prince" and head of the house, but he is "all american" thru and thru. He has some "old Russian stuff" in the house from his mother and grandparents (a few Faberge bits, icons and wonderful silver) but knows nothing about it nor cares.  His daughters want nothing to do with their history. I once brought over a Russian History book to them, showed them engravings of their illustrious ancestors, but they all just politely glanced at it and changed the topic of conversation. I know and care more about their family history than they do. 'Reclaiming' family property from one hundred years ago is not even on their radar.

Offline Reed

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2004, 11:57:36 AM »
Nick,

Thanks for the insights from NY.  It is interesting to hear from the perspective of those families who lost so much during the revolution.  It hadn't occurred to me that they were not given recognition for the works of art that now hang in the Russian museums.  I suppose the Soviets weren't about to give away where it all came from.  

I still think that some type of restitution should be given the families.  Maybe I have seen so much of it here in the U.S. that I expect it in other countries.

Offline Reed

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2004, 12:08:10 PM »
Forum Ad.
I once read a book that dealt with the idea of holding valuable information in trust until the future generations were ready and wanting to explore and reacquaint themselves with their past.  At that point the repository would be like opening a jewelry box full of precious gems.  Maybe, that is what this site and the books being published will become.  Each one will contain a bit of the impressive past of Imperial Russia.  Someday, someone from that family will want to know about their ancestors and the role they played in history.  This may be the only place they can find all they want to know.  Maybe, I'm too much of a romantic.....but why else would I be here???   :)

james_h

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2004, 04:35:03 AM »
 It is  interesting to read Americans talk about the return of former aristocratic properties. Do americans not realise that a large part of the art of former russian aristocrats now reside in American museums. Would Americans on this forum be so keen for restoration to old families if it empties their fine museums?

The same can be said for the jewels of the old russians. Most, now in the hands of wealthy Americans.

The list goes on and on.

Returning property is out of the question for several reasons. The main one being most of Russia was owned entirely buy a handfull of families. Should %70 percent of the current land mass of the Russian Federation be returned to the ownership of the remaining Romanovsky's? That was an accurate approximation of how much of the former territory of the russ. empire that was owned by them...as their PERSONNAL property.

Also the whole ideological belief of aristocracy is "Rule by your superiors". Surely the decendants of these families can prove themselves relevant in this day and age, not however by recounting the glories days gone by. A time few, if any alive today experienced first hand. If the answer to this is no then they should remain silent and get on with life for they have nothing of real relevance to contribute.

There is nothing wrong with romanticism but it becomes dangerous when not kept in check with reality.
Case and point, a forum topic was "Which Romanov would you liked to have met" (or something to that effect) The point being YOU wouldn't have gotten to meet ANY of them. One could not just pop around to a Romanov Palace and introduce yourself. Attendance was by invitation only. And most were not invited.

I'm not trying to be negative or pesimistic, I like pre-revolutionary Russia aswell. But Romantic Idealisation aside I can see it for what it was.

Offline JD

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Re: Returning Former Property?
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2004, 02:15:42 PM »
I think you're overreacting.  Anyone who's studied an ounce of Tsarist Russia knows it was not a fun place for 99% of the population.  The fascination here is with the 1% for whom this was most definitely not the case.  I don't see a problem with this, although you're correct, it should be kept in perspective.