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“The Russian elite does not know how to behave in polite society”

"Российская элита не умеет себя вести в приличном обществе"

Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky about the monarchy, the imposters and for the love of art

Last summer in Russia and abroad actively discussed the idea of a homecoming of the descendants of the Romanov family. The Deputy of legislative Assembly of Leningrad region Vladimir Petrov wrote letters to members of the Imperial House with an offer to return to Russia. Messages were addressed to the Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Prince Dmitry Romanovich. According to Petrov, this step will contribute to the restoration of Russia’s greatness and return to her world influence. Deputies developed a draft law “On special status of members of the Royal family”, and as the official residence of the Romanovs has proposed a Palace in the suburbs of St. Petersburg or in the Crimea. This initiative provoked heated discussion in Russia and ambiguous reaction of representatives of Russian noble families. In an interview with “” Prince Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky told about the imposters and the monarchy, about what the Russian elite, and what draws him to the art.

“”: How do you assess the idea to return to Russia the descendants of the Romanov dynasty, in particular to provide a special status Duchess Maria Vladimirovna?

Lobanov-Rostov: it is important for Me to have heard an alternative point of view. When we count Sheremetev, Prince Trubetskoy and count Kapnist — they all live in Paris — wrote an open letter to the Russian President about the undesirability of any special status of Maria Vladimirovna Hohenzollern, we proceeded from the fact that it will inevitably riveted the world’s attention, and may damage Russia.

It is important to understand that we are talking about a man who samozvanka calls himself head of the Imperial house of Romanov, illegally handing out noble titles and orders, and the saddest — her father flirted with Hitler, and openly called for Russian immigrants to fight on the side of the Nazis. We wanted to be heard, and I’m glad there were articles and radio broadcasts, where our opinions were voiced.

"Российская элита не умеет себя вести в приличном обществе"

Duchess Maria Vladimirovna

Photo: Alexey Kudenko / RIA Novosti

But you disagreed, many members of the nobility living in Russia.

Yes, some are convinced that it is not so important who exactly will receive the new Royal status. More importantly, this would be a great step towards the revival of the monarchical status in Russia. But I believe that it is impossible to build a new home on such a rotten and weak foundations. Nothing good will come of it.

How do you feel about the idea of the restoration of the monarchy?

I’m not a monarchist, but I believe that with time it would be appropriate to make constitutional monarchy in Russia. Different surveys show that about one-third of the total population support the idea of creating a constitutional monarchy. And this is without any monarchist propaganda and outreach. Although few people realize is how many different governance institutions need to create that today in Russia simply are absent.

The future monarch must exercise balanced mix of secular authorities and the Orthodox Church. Should be a stabilizing tool of the multinational and multi-confessional country, not thinking of the momentary moods of voters, and following the idea of the historical fate of his people. The monarch may be either re-elected or may be invited to the rightful heir to one of the two ruling dynasties of Rurik and Romanov. I know many worthy representatives of these families.

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"Российская элита не умеет себя вести в приличном обществе"

Maria Vladimirovna at the awards ceremony of the sculptor Zurab Tsereteli with the Imperial order of St. Anna

Photo: Sergey Pyatakov / RIA Novosti

The monarchy is unthinkable without the aristocracy. Do you see something resembling aristocracy in modern Russia?

Looking at the current representatives of the Russian elite, I understand that in 95% of cases they have nothing to do with the aristocracy.

What do they lack?

In English I would be easier to answer: the aristocrat is a gentleman, he has a different mind, different values, different manners. Modern Russian elite in the majority just don’t know how to behave in polite society higher. In addition, the aristocrat must be the taste. For example, a person invited me to lunch in his huge house in the center of Moscow. It’s all very expensive: Antiques, paintings, helpful lackeys. But it has no flavor, extreme bad taste. The steps outside the entrance made of marble — but they must be granite! Marble is a soft stone, from rain and detergents, he quickly becomes unusable. In the same house there is a wonderful collection of paintings. But the pictures themselves are framed ugly — no taste! This is a typical example of the lack of taste in people, collecting art in Russia. Frame new, grandiose, with copious gilding; they do not harmonize with the paintings. Each painting is a special story. Each requires its own individual frame. But such small details reflect the taste.

"Российская элита не умеет себя вести в приличном обществе"

Moscow Imperial ball at government House

Photo: Vyacheslav Prokofyev / TASS

Special attention to the paintings — the result of years of collecting Russian theatrical art?

Yes, including. It’s part of my life.

What do you most value in your congregation?

Most of all I appreciate his integrity, conceptual unity, it is left to chance. In our collection there is nothing random. In its maximum part of the congregation numbered nearly two hundred artists and thousands of works. I love your Vrubel, Larionov, Goncharova, Bakst, and still had great emotional charge, living among their paintings.

What is the situation on the art market?

In my opinion, the situation is completely illogical and subjective. When hundreds of millions of dollars paid for a painting by Modigliani or Cezanne, it is not normal. This money could build hundreds of schools in Russia. But there are a lot of unearned money and their need to spend. However, even the rarest diamonds are estimated only in the tens of millions of dollars.

Is it possible to gather a good collection, with a rich inheritance or huge income?

Universal prescription does not happen. But there’s a General principle: look closely to 10-15 artists that you personally like and affordable. When the paintings one of them will be too expensive for you, switch to another. And so twenty years. Then one of them will definitely be called an outstanding painter, and he was going to explode in value. Then, after selling one of his works, you will be able to get back what he invested for 20 years, and take pictures, you most favorite.

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You personally have known many painters. Who made the biggest impression in person?

Knew. For Example, Salvador Dali. It was a very strange and unpredictable. I realized that before me was a genius. Unfortunately, we are unable to establish close friendly relations. The obstacle was his wife Gala. I appreciate Dali more than Picasso, because he has more works that are experiencing the talent of a painter. Picasso, of course, more brilliant and versatile, but he has a lot of work that push me away. That is, I’d rather live with the paintings of late Given than the late Picasso. But it is better to live with early Picasso pink period than from the early Dali. Although, to be honest, I would prefer to live with a painting by Matisse than to Picasso or Dali. But I never acquired Western painting, because then the money would be taken away from the acquisition of Russian theatrical art.

"Российская элита не умеет себя вести в приличном обществе"

Prince Nikita Lobanov-Rostov and Princess Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky at the opening of the exposition of the Russian theatrical-decorative art from their collection

Photo: Alexey Danichev / RIA Novosti

What are your tastes in the other arts — literature, music?

The entire world of classic literature I read in early youth, when he lived with his parents in Bulgaria. A major figure for me life was Pushkin. If we talk about the music I grew up with classical Opera repertoire. My parents instilled in me a love for musical theater: at age five I went to the Opera Smetana’s “the bartered bride” and then “Aida” by Verdi. Symphonic music I’ve come much later, when at age 23, arrived in new York, where he met the great violinist Nathan Milstein.

In the late fifties in Carnegie hall it was still possible to hear such giants of Russian performing art, like David Oistrakh and Sergei Koussevitzky. When I was a student at Oxford, was fond of dramaticheskoi music, Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart. From the music of XX century I especially appreciate Stravinsky and Prokofiev. But modern music for me is frankly unacceptable.

Russian art has a future?

I look to the future with optimism. Russian — phenomenally gifted people. Although I doubt that in the near future will be able to repeat the cultural boom that was in Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. Then, the Russian genius of music, literature, visual arts, theatre, ballet influenced an entire world culture. Still in Russia still have the opportunity to study drawing. Outside of Russia the drawing as a subject — a basis upon which to build an individual approach to painting, in schools and universities little demand. In any case, it is important that the Russians were aware of the tremendous impact that Russian art of the last two centuries has made the whole civilized world. Even the most rabid haters of Russia are forced to recognize it.

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