Talk about downsizing.
Russia’s Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Romanov once lived in a lavish palace with thousands of servants, and often wore diamonds the size of eggs. If that doesn’t give you an idea of how filthy rich she was, some experts peg her family’s net worth at an astounding $1 trillion dollars.
Yet today, right here in Toronto, you can purchase an apartment she owned for only $539,000. There’s just one catch though: It’s a dump.
Let’s back up a little. Romanov was the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexander III, but her family was overthrown during the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Grand Duchess was forced to abandon her wealthy life and eventually flee to Canada with her husband and two sons. Once they arrived, the family bounced around between several different farms (and even met Queen Elizabeth II) before Russian friends helped them settle in the Toronto building that’s now up for sale.
And even though her sudden downgrade in lifestyle might seem sad, family members say she was happier living modestly.
“She chose to live simply,” Olga Cordeiro, the Grand Duchess’s granddaughter told the Toronto Star. “(In Canada) people would call her Grand Duchess or Your Highness, things like that, and she would say, ‘Just call me Olga.’ That was her tag line.”
By the time she died, Romanov only had an orange china cup and saucer, $50 worth of clothes, a Faberge dog and a framed photo of her husband. She was able to leave $200,000 behind for her sons.
It’s unclear exactly what happened to the family’s fortune, but much of it appears to have been lost during the Russian Revolution.
All of that to say, there’s a lot more to this dump than meets the eye.