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City news, 02.03.2004 12:03

Countess' wedding tiara back in the city

Countess'  wedding tiara back in the city Restoring to Russia a golden tiara presented by Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov to Sofia von Merenberg, the granddaughter of national poet Alexander Pushkin, as a wedding gift will cost from $4 million to $8 million.

That was the estimate made by businessman Artyom Tarasov at a press conference in the State Hermitage Museum on Monday, where the tiara will be on display until March 14. Tarasov brought the treasure from Britain to drum up funds to buy the tiara and restore it to Russia as an item of cultural heritage.

"The exact price will be known when we get the final valuation from experts," Tarasov said. It is believed Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, ordered the tiara to be made by the famous city jewelry firm of Bolin in 1890 and it was presented to the poet's granddaughter at her wedding in 1891. The same year the tiara had to leave Russia together with its owner after Tsar Alexander III refused to recognize the marriage and the couple had to go abroad. In England, where the newlyweds arrived, the British queen, Victoria, granted Sofia the title of Countess de Torbi. Ever since the tiara has remained a treasure of that family. The tiara is unique in that it consists of eight separate parts that can also serve as earrings, a pendant, a hair pin, a brooch, and a bracelet.

A while ago the current owner of the tiara, Marchioness Sarah Milford-Haven, decided to sell the family relic. She doubted it could be sold as a regular accessory. Therefore she addressed Tarasov, who then asked her to postpone the sale and gave a deposit for it. He then appealed to the Russian government asking for assistance to buy it.

Tarasov said he hoped that wealthy Russians or organizations would get interested in paying for such a thing. He said he had offers from several financial circles, adding that a potential buyer could be "a bank or several banks".

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