Hidden Treasures: Royal Jewels Recovered from Eight Decades in Secrecy
In a captivating revelation, a magnificent collection of royal jewels, hidden in the depths of a German bank vault for nearly eighty years, is set to go on sale at Sotheby’s.
These exquisite tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings represent the opulence of a bygone era in European court life.
The unique nature of this collection makes it truly unparalleled. What makes this story even more remarkable is its survival, as these jewels were rescued from the clutches of the Soviets through acts of bravery and ingenuity.
Princess Eudoxie and Her Royal Heritage
The central figure in this extraordinary story is Princess Eudoxie, the elder daughter of the penultimate King of Bulgaria.
She hailed from a lineage that connected her to both Queen Victoria and Queen Marie Antoinette, through her father and mother, respectively. Although she never married, her life took a significant turn in 1918 when her father abdicated, and her brother, Boris, became the new king.
Eudoxie assumed the role of ‘First Lady of Bulgaria’ in her brother’s reign, until his marriage in 1930 to Giovanna of Savoy.
The Turbulent Times of the Bulgarian Monarchy
As the Red Army of Russia advanced in 1944, Princess Eudoxie could see that the monarchy in Bulgaria was on the brink of extinction.
In a daring act of heroism, she safeguarded the family’s opulent jewels by sewing them into pieces of cloth and concealing them inside an iron box, buried in her garden in Sofia.
However, her bravery led to a harsh ordeal as she was arrested, subjected to solitary confinement, and torture by the pro-Soviet Bulgaria Fatherland Front.
The Heroic Rescue Mission
With the mounting peril surrounding the Bulgarian royal family, Eudoxie’s brother, Prince Kyril, was assassinated in February 1945.
In June 1946, it was decided that the remaining royal family members could leave the country without further harm. In an unexpected act of leniency, the communist leaders chose not to turn them into martyrs, as had happened to the Russian Royals three decades earlier.
Princess Eudoxie’s Ingenious Plan
As a Bulgarian citizen, Princess Eudoxie was informed that she could not take anything with her, except the clothes she wore.
However, her sister-in-law, Queen Giovanna, was granted permission to take her two young children and her personal belongings into exile.
This presented Eudoxie with a slim opportunity to save the hidden jewels. One fateful night, when her guard was sound asleep, she retrieved the concealed box of jewels and devised a plan to transport them with her to safety.
The Journey to Salvation
On September 16th, a small royal party consisting of two women and two children, accompanied by the Queen’s modest luggage, embarked on their brave journey.
They were first taken by train across the Bulgarian-Turkish border to Istanbul, where they boarded a ship bound for Alexandria, Egypt.
Princess Eudoxie disembarked in Port Said, carrying a suitcase filled with the precious jewels, along with some clothing provided by Queen Giovanna.
She then boarded a cargo ship for Europe, embarking on a journey with very limited resources.
Preservation and Rediscovery
Upon arriving in Switzerland in early October, Princess Eudoxie contacted the Duke of Württemberg, the husband of her younger sister, Nadezhda.
He was living close to their father, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, in Germany. Eudoxie ultimately entrusted the jewels to the Coburg mansion, where they were safeguarded in a bank until their remarkable rediscovery in 2023.
These jewels, still preserved in the cloth pouches she had sewn in 1944, have an astonishing story to tell, having remained unworn for decades.
An Opulent Legacy: Vienna 1900 Auction
Today, these hidden treasures from a forgotten era will be unveiled and auctioned at Sotheby’s Geneva. The collection’s rich history and Princess Eudoxie’s courageous act have made these jewels an extraordinary testament to European court life during its most opulent times.