THE LOST FORTUNE OF THE TSARS by William Clarke

THE LOST FORTUNE OF THE TSARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A judicious audit of what happened or may have happened to the vast riches controlled by Russia's Romanoffs before they were executed by Bolshevik irregulars in the wake of the 1917 Revolution. Drawing on previously inaccessible Kremlin files, other archival sources, and globetrotting legwork. Clarke (former financial editor of the London Times) first offers a brief but vivid history of the events leading up to the mid-1918 murders of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and at least two of their three daughters. He goes on to examine the recently developed forensic evidence that leaves only the monarch's heir (the hemophiliac Alexis) and one (as yet unidentified) daughter among the missing. He assesses the chances that Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the storied Anastasia, and Michael Goleniewski, the self-styled tsarevich, were telling the truth. Getting down to business, Clarke documents his painstaking search for the putatively lost wealth of the Romanoffs through Berlin, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, and other world capitals. As it happens, there were precious few assets left. The Communist regime confiscated virtually all of the extended family's in-country possessions, including art works, bank deposits, estates, and jewelry. The author also concludes that the deposed sovereign spent most of his ready cash to keep his consort and children in modest comfort. Nor, he proves, did the tsar have a hoard of gold stashed in the Bank of England; the billion on deposit there had been transferred by the state for safekeeping at the start of WW I and was eventually used to repay war debts. Despite the best efforts of ‚migr‚ fortune hunters and their lawyers, moreover, no tsarist treasure trove has ever come to light, although Clarke hints there just may be a cache in Geneva. A fiscal detective's exhaustive accounting that focuses on the monetary aspects of an imperial dynasty's harsh fate.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's