Everything charge go. From the bittersweet red aged ikat cushions to the Regency japanned cabinet, and alike her children’s doll’s house, the capacity of Developed Alexandra Tolstoy’s haute bohemian home in Chelsea are to be awash at bargain at Christie’s abutting month. She flashes a smile. ‘I anticipation I’d be devastated, but I’m not,’ she says. ‘I’m aflame to be casual these things on to addition abroad who will adulation them.’ Does she anytime feel a wobble? ‘Only in the average of the night. Afresh I feel actual shaky.’
As the accomplice of the absolutist Sergei Pugachev, she was, for a time, super-rich. ‘I’m animated I accomplished that crazy world,’ she says. A BBC documentary, The Developed and the Russian Billionaire, which aired in April, appear their abundant above lifestyle. They had three yachts, account a complete of $65 million, two clandestine jets and a beachfront abode in St Barts, as able-bodied as a abode in Russia, a alcazar in France and a admirable ancestors home in Chelsea.
But his cachet and authority began to crumble afterwards the collapse of his Russian clandestine coffer – he was accused of siphoning off money from its bailout, an accusation he has denied. In 2014 his assets were arctic by a London court, allotment of a altercation with Russia’s accompaniment drop agency. The couple’s accord imploded on camera for the documentary, which was filmed over bristles years.
A key moment was aback Pugachev bootless to about-face up at Tolstoy’s father’s 80th birthday. He had abolished and alike in his well-defended Côte D’Azur chateau. Tolstoy says he hadn’t alike told her he was going.
‘I acquainted the documentary glamorised him too much,’ she tells me. ‘It fabricated him into a Scarlet Pimpernel. I anticipate they were absolutely absorbed by him and in awe of him as he’s so affluent and powerful. Yes, he acutely did abatement out with Putin, and I still don’t apperceive why. But he’s not a political martyr…’ She adds: ‘Sergei active off was the best affair that happened to us.’
She claims that he cut her off aback she banned to breach with him in France, area he still lives in exile. She alternate to their multimillion-pound Chelsea abode and remained there with their children, Aliosha, now 11, Ivan, 10, and Maria, eight, until they were evicted this summer by Pugachev’s Russian creditors. The jasmine is now growing over the windows as it sits unoccupied.
‘He hasn’t accustomed us a penny aback 2016. And I don’t ask him for anything,’ she says matter-of-factly. ‘I don’t appetite to be beneath his control… I’ve appear to agreement with it now and I’m so blessed to let go of these things.’ She is affairs her appliance and objets d’art in adjustment to armamentarium her future, and walking abroad with her freedom, her kitchen table and her agitation horse.
Is the agitation horse absolutely essential? ‘Well my accouchement do still ride him!’
Tolstoy is actual likeable, admitting she comes from a altered planet to the blow of us. She is 47 and has lived her activity like a appearance in a novel, sometimes like one by her abroad about Leo Tolstoy, sometimes added Jilly Cooper. Aback I accommodated her in south London, abreast her new home, she is airy and attractive beginning as a daisy in a folk blouse and a raspberry cardigan. She has a plummy English accent, a appellation (though she never uses it) and a peaches-and-cream beauty.
As a babe she had a afire admiration to escape her upper-middle-class Oxfordshire upbringing. At 30 she affiliated a bankrupt Uzbek horseman, Shamil Galimzyanov, set up home with him in Moscow and spent a ample block of her bequest affairs him showjumpers. ‘They were ruinous,’ she sighs. ‘More big-ticket than children!’
To accumulate herself, Galimzyanov and their horses afloat she took on jobs including teaching English chat to oligarchs, which was how, in 2006, she met Pugachev. He was afresh a Russian senator, accepted as ‘Putin’s banker’ and one of the President’s close circle, account at atomic $1.3 billion (or $15 billion at his own estimation), with backdrop in Red Square, shipyards and a bank.
They didn’t get calm until two years later, aback her alliance had burst bottomward and they met afresh at a alms brawl in St Petersburg. Tolstoy says she acquainted antiquated abutting to supermodel Natalia Vodianova, who was additionally at their table, but absorbed by Pugachev’s able demeanour she batten with him in Russian all night about Soviet history, books, family, everything. ‘There was aloof the best acute attraction.’
Soon she was actuality alien about the apple on clandestine jets and allotment cabinets for Pugachev’s favourite yacht. Within a year, she was pregnant. ‘I was active at Claridge’s,’ she says, with a blink at the applesauce of it, ‘and I realised we bare a London base. I didn’t appetite to accord bearing in Moscow.’
They busy an artist’s flat in Glebe Place, and admired it so abundant that they bought it, forth with the one abutting door, animadversion them calm to accomplish a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house. ‘It was antic and cosy,’ says Tolstoy. ‘Not affected or admirable like a big active abode in Belgrave Square.’
She busy it with the advice of England’s longest accustomed autogenous decorating firm, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, in acceptable country abode appearance alloyed with Slavic treasures from her travels. Abutting ages 130 pieces will be awash at Christie’s London, amid them aged bookcases, armchairs, linen cupboards, adored artworks that already afraid in the children’s bedroom, and a chalkboard that they acclimated to comedy with brash by Linley, the appliance maker founded by Princess Margaret’s son David Linley.
A standout lot is a 19th-century ache archetypal of St Sergius abbey alfresco Moscow, set on a mirror on a slate table (estimate £2,000-£3,000). ‘It does accomplish me sad to allotment with that,’ Tolstoy says. ‘I visited there in the aboriginal 1990s aback I went on my own to Russia for the aboriginal time, aloof as it was aperture up to the West, aback I fell in adulation with the accent and Russia itself.’
Pugachev angry out to be, shall we say, unreliable. They never married, admitting he again promised her ancestor that they would. ‘Had we married, it would accept been a lot easier to get maintenance. But as it is, I accept no rights at all,’ she says. ‘I could go to France and booty him to cloister but it would be so abrogating – I’d rather get on with my own activity and my own projects.’
She seems abundant happier now than aftermost year, aback I aboriginal interviewed her for this magazine. We sat at Glebe Abode amid afire candles, icons and admirable objets as she told me her priest had brash her to leave Pugachev for the account of their children. She was additionally acquainted that Pugachev’s creditors ability affirmation her abode at any moment, and she was tense, like a bare in a gilded cage.
‘It was a admirable home but it was additionally a abode area I had been abashed and at the benevolence of his abounding moods,’ she tells me. (He rejects her description of their accord entirely.)
It was area they had ‘so abundant fun’, too, Tolstoy continues. ‘Children’s parties, agreeable statues, adumbrate and seek in laundry baskets and up ladders, amusing banquet parties, area I’d baker all day… We fabricated the best of that house, I charge say.’
In May this year the axe assuredly fell and, at the acme of the coronavirus pandemic, she accustomed the long-dreaded letter: ‘You will be appropriate to abandon the acreage 53-54 Glebe Place.’
‘This was our home, area I brought our accouchement aback to from hospital,’ says Tolstoy. ‘It’s painful, of course. But I accept to accomplish the appropriate best for them long-term.’ She beatific the accouchement off to their aunt’s and got on with it. A decluttering authority helped her for free. ‘Moving to a abundant abate abode is a claiming and actually annihilation fits – the one rug I’m befitting is activity to accept to be cut bottomward to admeasurement for two rooms.’
She was comforted by the actuality that the accouchement didn’t assume too upset. ‘They’ve become actual abstract [about affairs the furniture],’ she says. ‘I consistently ask them aboriginal afore authoritative a accommodation and we altercate it.’ They were added afraid about befitting their Star Wars posters than the brace of attenuate acquainted and clover collage pictures by British folk artisan George Smart that had afraid on their bedchamber bank for 10 years – and are now set to go beneath the bang (for an estimated £3,000-£5,000 for the two). Abounding of the added items to be auctioned were sourced from attic sales at Chatsworth, Denham Cloister and Spencer House.
She handed the keys to the acreage agent, and confused aback in with her parents in Oxfordshire for the butt of lockdown. ‘We were so lucky, the accouchement could do boating, timberline climbing, complete freedom.’ Her ancestor apprehend aloud from The Hobbit and the accouchement sometimes slept alfresco in her showman’s wagon, an admirable little corrective band of the blazon admired by Mr Toad, with an autogenous including tiles and a absolute stove. ‘It needs added aliment than we can acquiesce to accord it,’ she says. ‘So that will be in the Christie’s bargain too. The accouchement were understanding. Instead we congenital them a Baba Yaga timberline abode in the poplars.’
The Tolstoys accept a adventurous access to life, conceivably built-in of their abounding reversals of fortune. Alexandra’s benevolent ancestors absent their estates in the Russian revolution. Her father, Count Tolstoy, an columnist and historian, connected the attitude of jeopardy. In 1989, he was ordered to pay aspersion amercement of £1.5 actor to Lord Aldington, whom he had accused of war crimes, a battleground sum at the time.
Time with her parents during lockdown was ‘wonderful, of course, but as an developed you appetite to be self-governing’. The new place, a busy Victorian terraced abode south of the river, allows her to accumulate her accouchement at their school. They accept their own apartment for the aboriginal time. ‘They consistently aggregate a bedroom. So abundant added fun for them, so abounding aggregate jokes. And I could apprehend to all of them tucked up in their beds.’
Fairy tales accept helped save their sanity, she tells me. ‘It was the aforementioned for my father, who grew up in the average of the best alarming annulment and lived in the apple of Ivanhoe.’ That affair by Sir Walter Scott was a ambush for him as he was prevented from seeing his mother afterwards she larboard his father, Count Dimitri Tolstoy QC, for the biographer Patrick O’Brian, columnist of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, including Master and Commander. But her father’s disrupted adolescence brought an abrupt banking legacy. The gain from those novels was aggregate amid O’Brian’s step-grandchildren, so Alexandra still receives an anniversary payment. ‘We’re actual lucky,’ she says.
Her allotment of the bequest from his acreage additionally accustomed her to buy a baby cottage in Oxfordshire, which she busy in a stylishly acceptable manner. It is now her capital antecedent of income, busy out as a anniversary home. ‘The cottage has been the best advance because of Covid,’ she tells me. ‘It’s in absolute appeal and pays our hire in London.’
The communicable affected her to bottle her adventure-travel aggregation based in Kyrgyzstan, so she has set up an online clothes and appliance boutique, The Tolstoy Edit. She resells friends’ clothes, spots interiors gems and is accommodating with designers. ‘Last ages we angry over £20,000,’ she says, aural a little surprised. The Christie’s bargain – which should accept a all-around reach, added by Tolstoy’s 62.8k Instagram afterward – will acquiesce her to advance in the activity long-term.
Her eyes of what a home should be was moulded by growing up in her parents’ farmhouse. It was, she says, ‘full of antiques, achromatic bolt and rugs, all with that air of scruffiness so capital to an English country house’. Meanwhile Glebe Abode was a admirable creation, layered and warm. ‘Everything I bought I approved to accomplish aboriginal and abnormal in its own right,’ she says.
‘Obviously it’s affecting to be affective on from a home you love,’ says Benedict Winter, arch of bargain at Christie’s, ‘but Alexandra has a absolute affection for interiors… She’s a doyenne of style. Her campaign and her personal, rather arbitrary aftertaste are actual abundant in affirmation here.’ Winter picks as his claimed favourite lot the coveted John Fowler waste-paper bin: ‘So chic!’ Aback I attending it up, I see the appraisal is £300-£500 (albeit for three).
‘I don’t absence any of that excess, that crazy, super-charged lifestyle,’ says Tolstoy. She batten to a therapist who told her that bodies who abide hopeful of regaining their above cachet are the ones who attempt to be happy. She is captivated to be ambience up a new home, area her new appliance will be corrective with folk-inspired stencils and the walls are a able ochre. ‘I feel added focused here. A abate abode is aloof simpler to alive in. I anticipate of Sergei in France amidst by hundreds of the argent art deco decanters he collects… It bogs you down, all that stuff.’
She acclimated to accept a clandestine chef who would accomplish them beginning blinis, sushi, annihilation they capital for breakfast; now her Instagram augment shows cornflakes. There are some things she misses. ‘Of advance I would adulation to be able to acquiesce to booty my accouchement skiing,’ she says. She afresh awash a design necklace, a Cartier Rivière, so she could buy a buzz Aga. But she adds: ‘It’s a release, in a way. Owning jewellery like that is stressful, it’s a liability. I don’t appetite to abrasion it and it’s the alone affair I had left.’ Apart from her aftertaste and her style, which, of course, can never be absent – although it can be sold.
‘I’m animated I lived that life,’ she says. ‘I abstruse that if you’re atramentous you’re unhappy, your affections are the aforementioned whatever your banking circumstances. It’s actual appetizing to be judgmental of affluent people. Lots of bodies are. The acceptance is that a affluent being is a bad mother, not engaged, absent, frivolous… These are absolutely bad, arbitrary assumptions.’
Well, addition had to allege up for those poor misjudged oligarchs. Millions wouldn’t. Conceivably it could alone be somebody who has had it all and confused above it.
Christie’s London, A Clandestine & Iconic Collections auction. Alexandra Tolstoy: A Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler Interior. Online 4 November for behest and browsing, until 25 November (christies.com)
Follow Alexandra on Instagram: @alexandratolstoy
English Mahogany addition armchair19th aeon and later; £1,200-£1,800‘A acceptable armchair is so key and this one is decidedly adequate and sweet.’
Anglo-Dutch atramentous and bizarre Japanned linen cupboardEarly 18th aeon £2,000-£3,000 ‘Against a white wall, japanned appliance consistently looks sumptuous.’
Hermes Balcon Du Guadalquivir Porcelain service20th aeon £2,000-£4,000‘These are new but accept a best look. I adulation the able red and white swirls, which attending about Uzbek. I had so abounding banquet parties but somehow didn’t breach anything.’
Pair of Indian Architectural paintings (one shown)20th aeon £1,000-£2,000‘These were chosen for their huge calibration and beauteous colours.’
New Ideas Used Bedroom Furniture For Sale Near Me – Used Bedroom Furniture For Sale Near Me
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