Art: Under the Hammer

In 1921 Armand Hammer went to Russia and, realizing that there is almost nothing a bureaucracy needs so much as pencils, began to manufacture them for the newly established Soviet Government. He made such good pencils that grateful Bolsheviks sent him back to the U.S. to unload their greatest white elephant, the Imperial Russian crown jewels and objets d'art. He unloaded them so successfully that when the world's only other comparable white elephant, the Hearst art and antique collection, was put up for sale in 1941, Armand Hammer was called in to do the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!