26 September 2014

The Romanian Treasure

During World War I, since Bucharest was occupied by Germany, the Romanian administration moved to Iaşi, and with them, the most valuable objects which belonged to the Romanian state. Fearing an eventual German victory, the Romanian government decided to send the Treasure abroad...

The Romanian government signed a deal with the Russian government which stated that Russia would safe keep the Romanian Treasure in the Kremlin until the end of the war. At 3:00 AM during the night of December 14–15, 1916, a train with 21 carriages, full of gold bars and gold coins (around 120 tonnes), departed the Iaşi train station eastward. In four other carriages, two hundred gendarmes guarded the train. The gold load of this train has as of 2005 a value of $1.25 billion. Seven months later, in the summer of 1917, as the war situation was getting worse for Romania, another transport was sent to Moscow, containing the most precious objects of the Romanian state, including the archives of the Romanian Academy, many antique valuables, such as 3,500-year-old golden jewels found in Romania, ancient Dacian jewels, the jewels of the voivodes of Wallachia and Moldavia, as well as the jewels of the Romanian royalty, thousands of paintings, as well as precious cult objects owned by Romanian monasteries, such as 14th century icons and old Romanian manuscripts. It also contained various deposits of the Romanian people at the national banks. The value of this train is hard to estimate, especially because most of its contents are art objects, but most likely nowadays it could even surpass the value of the other train...

After the Romanian Army entered Bessarabia, at the time nominally part of Russia, in the early 1918, the new Soviet government severed all diplomatic relations and confiscated the Romanian treasure. The Romanian government tried to recover the treasure in 1922, but with little success. In 1935, the USSR did return a part of the archives, and in 1956 paintings and ancient objects, most notably, the Pietroasele treasure. All the governments of Romania since World War I, regardless of their political colour, have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a return of the gold and of the culturally valuable objects, but all Soviet and Russian governments have refused
Posted as a reminder that during wartime, powerful and unscrupulous people amass immense fortunes.


  1. Looting art is of all times. How do you think The Louvre has been supplied with artwork?


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