Russian buyer snaps up £2.7m decoration that was worn by the tsar

A diamond-encrusted military decoration once worn by Russian tsars and their families sold yesterday for a record £2.7m to a private Russian collector.

The Order of St Andrew, dating from 1800 and from the Russian crown jewels, fetched more than four times its estimate of £600,000, setting a new record for any Order at auction.

The 45-carat diamond, measuring 130mm, and weighing 161g, was created to demonstrate the power and wealth of the Russian royals in the early 19th century.

Rosie Innes-Ker, head of Russian art at Sotheby's in London, said she was "absolutely thrilled" with the selling price. The badge, described as a "highly important" piece, would return to Russia with the unnamed buyer.

"It is of great historical importance and we are delighted to say that it was acquired by a Russian private collector who will return it to Russia," she said. The sale represents an increasingly strong market in Russian art and jewellery which has seen a great rise in prices during the past 12 months. There has been a 32 per cent rise in sales this year compared with the total made in the first six months of last year. In 2007, sales of Russia art reached £89.6m.

Commenting on the growth, Jo Vickery, senior director at Sotheby's, said: "This demonstrates the continued growth in this strong market, further supported by an influx of new buyers and collectors from Russia and the CIS," she said.

A spokesman added that, between 2003 and 2007, sales of Russian art had attracted more than 100 new buyers each year from across the globe with buyers from 58 different countries.

The Order bears a finely enamelled figure of the saint on a cross with diamond borders and the letters, SAPR, supported by a crowned double-headed eagle formed of diamonds, with ruby eyes and gold beak and claws.

In spite of its use by the tsar and his family for state occasions, it was given to various foreign rulers who had shown particular favour to the Russian empire.

The badge was among a number of sumptuous pieces commissioned during the reign of Paul I or in the early years of his successor, Alexander I, and has had an illustrious history, worn by the good and the great of Russian nobility.

When Alexander's favourite sister and confidante, the grand duchess, Catherine Pavlovna, married Duke George of Oldenburg in 1809, the tsar conferred the diamond insignia upon the newly married Duke and gave him the added title of "Imperial Highness". It has since then, been passed down the Tsar's descendants.

The badge's sale comes at the end of three days of Russian artwork auctions at Sotheby's.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect