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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA

Holiday Gifts

For the Oligarch who has everything
Tradition has it that, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” things like a partridge in a pear tree; but we are in Moscow, and here we do things a little differently. Here is how we plan our Christmas for the oligarch who has everything (his young lady friend included).

By Jeremy Noble

A Handful of Russian Diamonds

Prince Gregory Potemkin, favourite of Catherine the Great, liked to keep his pockets filled with diamonds; not because he liked to feel his wealth, but to keep from biting his nails. Our modern-day oligarch just likes to have things to play with; the more expensive the better…

Where to buy:
ALROSA Co. Ltd (Russia's largest diamond company).
10/12 1st Kazachy Per., Moscow 11 9017.
Tel.: 777-0941

Price estimate:
One 29 carat diamond (5,744,628 roubles);
one 20 carat diamond (4,672,124 roubles);
handful of smaller diamonds (95 million roubles, and some loose change).
Total: 105,416,752 roubles ($4 million).

An Oil Painting by Aivazovsky

Our oligarch likes to buy record-breaking art. The highest price paid at auction for a Russian painter is $3.2 million; for a seascape by Ivan Aivazovsky, sold at Sotheby’s in London in May this year. The next Sotheby’s auction of Russian art will take place in June 2007 (in time for next year’s Christmas…)

Price estimate:
79,500,000 roubles ($3 million +)

Where to buy:
Sotheby’s, Old Bond Street, London, UK.

A Russo-Baltique Impression Motor Car

Making an impression is the object in life of every oligarch; a car called an Impression could have been named for him (it was). The Impression is made in Moscow by Russo-Baltique, the modern-day successors to the famed manufacturers of motor cars in Russia before the 1917 revolution. Russo-Baltique cars won the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1912, and in 1913 they were appointed Official Suppliers to His Imperial Majesty. Only three complete original Russo-Baltique cars survive to this day. Made by hand, to order, the Impression has a V12 engine producing 555 horsepower.

Price estimate:
50 million roubles ($1.9 million)

Where to buy:

A Collection of Russian Contemporary Art

Our oligarch just doesn’t have the time to build up an art collection; he wants it all at once. Here is our instant collection of the contemporary artists we like the most.

Price estimate:
5.500.000 roubles. ($200,000)

Where to buy:
Marat Guelman Gallery. Malaya Polianka Str., 7/7, blgd.5,
Tel.: 238-8492, 238-2783 238-4040

Erbol Meldibekov, Pol-Pot; Photograph

AES +F, action half life;
digital collage

Vlad Monroe, Putin;
Digital Photograph

Blue soup, Lunar Landscape; photograph

Valery Koshlyakov, 3 roubles;
canvas and mixed materials

Andrei Molodkin

Blue Noses Group, Kitchen Suprematism; digital photograph

Olga and Alexander Florensky, Submarine; mixed materials

A Pair of Porcelain Vases

Every rich man has to have a collection of porcelain, to demonstrate his sense of taste. Our oligarch is not too fond of those little tea cups and saucers (he can’t put his finger through the handle); he likes his porcelain the bigger the better. These vases fit the bill exactly; they cost a fortune, and the handles are just the right size.

Pair of decorative vases. Porcelain, gilded, engine-turned; hand-painted, the unglazed bodies depicting bucolic scenes. Batenina Workshop, St Petersburg, 1820s-early 1830s. 33 centimetres.

Price estimate:
1,325,000 roubles ($50,000)

Where to buy:
Salon Peterburg: 54 Nevsky Prospect, St Petersburg.
tel.: (812) 571-4020.

A Troika and Orlov Horses

Our oligarch lives a fairytale life, and there is nothing more magical in Russia than a troika. But for our oligarch just any old troika won’t do; we found the most aristocratic stables, breeding Orlov horses. The Orlov breed is Russia’s oldest equine stock, going back more than two-hundred years.

Price estimate:
1,132,000 roubles ($30,000)

Where to buy:
Novo-Tomnikovskii Stables (formerly the Stables of the Princes Vorontsov-Dashkov); Tambov Oblast.
tel.: +7 (47 533) 73141

Zlatoust Sabre

The Zlatoust weapons factory was founded by Tsar Alexander I in 1815. Something about this sabre tells us our oligarch is going to love it; not the gold (although he loves gold); not the fine carving (that, he won’t appreciate); no, the wonderful sound it makes when you slice it through the air, and imagine that your competitor has just bitten the dust.

Price estimate:
583,000 roubles ($22,000)

Where to buy:
3rd Proezd Maryinoy Roshi Str. 40, Building 1, Moscow.
tel.: 8 910 408-8989;






A Sable Coat

Our oligarch doesn’t actually own a coat; that is because it is always 70 degrees in the Maybach. His lady friend, however, thinks that if Ludmilla Putin wears a sable coat, then so will she. Sable is ideal for those moments when you need to make an impression – buying the groceries, taking the children to nursery school. In the Maybach, very often the sable is all that she’s wearing.

Price estimate:
1,200,000 roubles ($45,000)

Where to buy: Snezhnaya Koroleva: Leningradskoe Shosse, 14.
Tel.: 777-8999


Buran Watch

Patriotism is in, so throw that Swiss watch away. This particular Buran chronograph, with lunar calendar and alligator strap, is apparently designed to reflect the character of the Russian winter; this obviously means that you need as much gold, diamonds, rubies and sapphires as you can possibly carry on one wrist; best of all, the open case means that all of the stones are on show.

Price estimate:
241,000 roubles ($9,100)

Where to buy: Online at

Something from Faberge

In the days when Russia was ruled by the Romanovs, high society liked to buy its baubles and trinkets from one particular jeweller, Carl Faberge, located on Bolshaya Morskaya in St Petersburg, the capital. Grand Dukes in particular liked to order “something from Faberge” for their favourite ballerinas. Today, not much has changed; Faberge is still in fashion (if not in business), and we found a little something for our oligarch to put on his desk; ideal for signing those multi-billion deals.

Inkwell, workshop of Carl Faberge, Moscow; circa 1908 - 1917. Stamped K. Faberge beneath Imperial Warrant

Price estimate:
510,000 roubles, ($19,000)

Where to buy:
Nabokov: 35 Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg.
Tel.: (812) 325-6975, 325-6960


A silver, gold and pearl mirror

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the richest of them all…” Made by the craftsmen Denis Kuzmin and Pyotr Fedotov, this is a one-off work of art guaranteed to appeal to both our oligarch and his lady (she likes looking in the mirror even more than he does).

Price estimate:
318,000 roubles ($ 12,000)

Where to buy:
Vnutrenni Proezd, 8.
Tel.: (495) 975-711 5





A Pair of Borzoi Hunting Dogs

Tolstoy has a story about a man who exchanges his girl for a Borzoi dog; we think that this will appeal to our oligarch’s sincere belief that a dog is a man’s best friend…. The Borzoi breed dates back to the 13th century. It has always been the hunting dog used by Russian royalty and the aristocracy to hunt wolves and hares on the steppes and open plains.

Price estimate:
79,500 roubles ($3000) the pair

Where to buy:
Manitias Borzois in Russia Kennels.


Business Cards Holder

At every meeting our oligarch likes to flash his business card, with its magical words “Chairman and CE O.” One thing he has never been able to find is a business card holder equal to the majesty of his position; with this unique present we have found the answer; made by hand in silver, encrusted with diamonds, and bearing the double-headed eagle, studded with a ruby.

Price estimate:
68,900 roubles ($2,600)

Where to buy:
“Podarki”, on Lubianskiy Proezd, 7.
Tel.: 225-2569

Half A Kilo of Beluga Caviar

People think that caviar is for special occasions; if you are really rich, however, like our oligarch, you always keep a jar of the best Beluga in the refrigerator, to spoon in your porridge.

Price estimate:
28,949 roubles ($1,100)

Where to buy:
Eliseevsky: 14-17 Tverskaya.
Tel.: 650-0760

Tea Set

At four on the dot, Nicholas II , Empress Alexandra and the children, would be served tea in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, St Petersburg. The tea was served in glasses with holders, exactly like the ones shown here. Our oligarch actually doesn’t know much about the last Tsar, but he likes anything gold.

Price estimate:
23,000 roubles ($900)

Where to buy: Online at

Photo Album

Our oligarch likes to collect photos of himself shaking hands with the President, and famous people. A handmade photo album, with a cover of his choice, strikes just the right note when he wants to show his friends how ‘in’ he is.

Price estimate:
18,550 roubles ($700)

Where to buy:
Art memory: Krylatsky Holm, 7, Building 2.
Tel.: 149-3570

History of Russia

Our oligarch left school somewhat early, and his education is sadly lacking. What better way to help him than a handprinted book about Russian history. Russian and English parallel texts are used to tell the story.

Price estimate:
18,400 roubles ($700).

Where to buy:
Alexander Print Mokhovaya Str., 30, St Petersburg.
Tel.: (812) 272-5215








Russian Linen

Russian linen bedsheets are what our oligarch likes to sleep in; that is when he sleeps in his own bed.

Price estimate:
17,300 rubles ($650)

Where to buy:
Hotel Astoria, 39 Bolshaya Morskaya, St Petersburg.
Tel.: (812) 494-5777


Vintage Vodka

Kauffman Luxury Vintage 2003 is made from the highest quality wheat, taken from one single harvest, only in the years when the finest wheat grains are identified. To guarantee high quality and retain continuity of style, Kauffman Luxury is bottled only once per vintage (25,000 bottles) with each bottle carrying a limited edition number. Tasting notes: It is an incredibly elegant, soft, subtle and delicate drink with a faint perceptible scent of roasted rye bread crust and a light pleasant taste of mint.” Mmm, this is what it says in the advertising; but does vodka really get better with age? And will our oligarch have the self-control to wait while it matures?

Price estimate:
3,402 roubles ($128)

Where to buy:
Kauffman shops 3-2, Kuznetsky Most St.
Tel.: 624-0464 27-1, Ostozhenka St.
Tel.: 291-3671 22, Kutuzovsky Prospekt,
Tel.: 243-2238


Animal Farm

A gift should always say something about the recipient. These New Year piggies from Konfael are made with over half a kilo of dark or white chocolate. We only hope that our oligarch can take a joke.

1,180 roubles ($44)

Where to buy:
Chocoladnii Salon-Kofeinya: Nikitsky Bulvar, 12.
Tel.: 202-2937

Ballet Shoes

You are probably asking yourself why, for what possible reason, our oligarch could be in need of a pair of ballet shoes? The answer is very simple; we are in Moscow, home of the Bolshoi. An oligarch is only as important as the number of trophies he can acquire; thus, our oligarch places them somewhere in the penthouse, where they will not be missed, and casually lets slip that, “She left them behind this morning.”

Price estimate:
700 roubles ($18)

Where to buy:
Salon Grishko: Kozitsky Per., 1a.
Tel.: 650-2249




Woollen Mittens

We think that this present is the best one of all for our oligarch. Why? Because though he might have a cold heart, you don’t want him to have cold hands.

Price estimate:
100 roubles ($4)

Where to buy:
The babushka sitting outside Paveletskaya metro.



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