Geneva based auctioneers Hôtel des Ventes
sold a highly important and unique collection of extensive correspondence, photographs and drawings exchanged between H.I.H Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, H.I.H Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, H.I.H Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and H.I.H Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and their private tutor Mr Ferdinand Thormeyer of Switzerland.
The auction room was overcrowded leaving standing room only. The two most prominent buyers were Swiss private collectors. Russian buyers were active both in the room and by telephone as well as a select few American clients.
The total sale price reaching 390,000 Swiss francs, the collection fetched almost four times its high estimate.
Bernard Piguet, Director and Principal Auctioneers of Hôtel des Ventes states We are delighted with the success of this sale, which has surpassed our expectations. We can reveal that all the lots have been sold without exception and for an amount almost four times the high estimate, clearly showing the level of interest among collectors for this historical and unpublished correspondence. Bernard Piguet also underlines Lot 168 for example, consisting of 20 telegrams amongst other documents, literally soared to the sum of CHF 26,700, almost 100 times its estimate. Elsewhere, a number of lots sparked off a bidding war between the collectors in the room and those bidding by telephone.
The lot that achieved the highest price in the collection was lot 185, the 35 letters written by Grand Duke Mikhail between 1902 and 1911 estimated at 5,000-8,000 selling at 34,000 Swiss francs. Close behind was lot 184, consisting of 80 letters written by the Grand Duke between 1900 and 1904 estimated at 10,000-15,000 Swiss francs selling at 32,800 Swiss francs. Matching this was the precious rose gold and silver cigarette case lot 164, presented Nicholas II and his brother Grand Duke George to their tutor, estimated at 5,000-8,000 and also at 32,800 Swiss francs.
Spanning his childhood, the 38 letters written by Grand Duke Mikhail between 1892 and 1899 in lot 183 estimated at 5,000-8,000 fetched 29,000 Swiss francs. Estimated at a mere 300-500, mixed lot 168 of 20 telegrams from either Nicholas II or his mother Maria Feodorovna, 2 medical notes on the ill health of Alexander III plus other documents sold for 26,700 Swiss francs.
The 248 letters written by Grand Duchess Olga between 1940 and 1959, lot 190 estimated at 5,000-8,000 fetched 24,000 Swiss francs. Not far behind, the 256 letters in lot 189 written by Olga between 1935 and 1939, estimated at 5,000-8,000, sold at 21,800 Swiss francs.
Confirming the higher historical interest for Grand Duke Mikhail, the 35 notes and drawings by his young hand in lot 179 were estimated at 400-600 and sold for 16,800 Swiss francs.
Written before her exile and being the last letters before the blackout during the revolution, lot 186 consisting of 42 letters by Olga between 1895 and 1914, sold for 14,400 Swiss francs. The 170 letters written by Olga between the two World Wars of lot 188, sold for 13,200 Swiss francs.
The highest price for a single photo was lot 153, the family portrait of Alexander III by Levitsky, estimated at 400-600 and fetching 6,600 Swiss francs. The much admired set of 9 menu cards of Grand Duke Mikhails luncheons, lot 174 estimated at 400-600 sold for 7,200 Swiss francs.
Aside from the Thormeyer Collection, lot 144 the rare Coronation Album of Emperor Alexander II, estimated at 20,000-30,000 and weighing in at an impressive 30kg, was sold to an overseas client via telephone bidding for 66,000 Swiss francs.