This is the stuff B-movies are made of: a team of builders restoring a St Petersburg palace has discovered a buried treasure in the cellar when they broke into what turned out to be a secret bricked-in niche. The 29 Tchaïkovsky Street mansion that once belonged to the Naryshkin family - one of the richest and most influential at the Tzar's court - concealed over a thousand pieces of silverware, table china and jewelry, including some rare first world war military decorations complete with paperwork which must cost a fortune these days.
Apparently, the Naryshkins' household treasures were painstakingly packed and stored away in the wake of the Socialist Revolution of 1917. Some of the items, particularly several military decorations, belonged to Lieutenant Sergei Sergeevich Somov, a distant relative of the Naryshkins. He died on February 12 1976 in Paris, apparently leaving no relatives. The Naryshkins themselves have no surviving offspring, either. In this case, 50% of the treasure's worth will be paid to the workers who found it, and the other half will go to the Russian state.
The treasure will be moved to one of St Petersburg's numerous art museums once a suitable alarm system is installed there. In the meantime, it is in the care of the police.
To see pictures of the treasure, click here