The Russians are buying the biggest and most luxurious mansions around the world. Naturally, everyone is turning to the Russian market. As a luxury real estate expert wanting to capitalize on this trend, you need to familiarize yourself with the Russian character, the Russian viewpoint, and know something about Russian culture, so that you can establish a bond with your new clients. This is the message of the Language of Luxury. It is a message of developing a new soul, a new point from which to view the wonders of this world. It is enriching, it is becoming a citizen with a cultural passport in the global village.

Having been raised in a Russian family, and studied both the language and literatures, I feel privileged to have been exposed to the culture in every possible manner. It is part of my soul, it has expanded my understanding of life, it has caused me to question everything, and it has contributed to my passion for learning. Although my family emigrated from Russia, they always emphasized their heritage as did their friends. The same could be said with all the Russians I met in my journeys. Here are some of my specific generalities about the Russians.

The Russian nature is extremely passionate. They come from a huge country of extremes. They are part European and part Asian. The Soviet Union morphed into several countries, however, the genetic imprint of both worlds runs deep in their veins. Everything they do must be bigger and better and they are possessed by that drive. For, instance, they are renowned for their ballet, and their superb gymnasts imported into America, Nastia Lukin. I can assure you, that the Russians feel she is one of their own, just as we Americans feel she is ours. One minute they are excited and joyful, and the next moment morose, tearful, and inconsolable.

The intellectuals amongst them mull over the “damned” questions exploring the meaning of life, while trapped in their existence and circumstances. This became the purview of their greatest authors: Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov, and their composers: Tchaikovsky, Rimsky Korsakov and Borodin to name a few. Each had their own interpretation on the subject and each is worth acquainting yourself with. Here is a critic’s description of the work of Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky, “"With a hidden passion they both stop at moments of horror, total spiritual collapse, and find acute sweetness in the cold trepidation of the heart before the abyss, they both force the reader/listener to experience those feelings, too."

They love to laugh at the absurd and the tragic, the laughter through tears phenomenon. When Stalin ordered that an absurdly high quota of wattage be produced in light bulb factory, they slyly met their quota by producing bulbs with 4000 wattage, thus meeting the quota, and creating a useless product. This is an example of that spirit.

They love their country. They love their art, they love their music. They love pageantry. When Peter the Great decided that Russia should have a religion, he sent his emissaries out to find the most beautiful, and the most theatrical form of worship. They picked Greek Orthodox. The priests wear magnificent ornate vestments, incense wafts through the air, candles burn, and choirs sing exquisite liturgy a capella. This was a religion worthy of the Russian character.

Catherine the Great corresponded with Voltaire, the French philosopher. She wanted to show her intellectual prowess. This was the time, when all things French were deemed to be the best. Russian children were taught French first; it became the language of the royals. The French quipped that the Russians took the powdered wig, but not the brains.

They have an all or nothing mentality. In war, they invented “the scorched earth policy,” when Napoleon came to invade the country in 1812. This became known as the patriotic war. It inspired Tolstoy who wrote War and Peace, and Tchaikovsky who wrote the Overture of 1812. The power of that music is such that orchestras in the United States perform it on July 4th accompanied with fireworks.

They are exploding into the world at large. They come from a world that has known the occupation of the Tartars, the autocracy of the Czars, and the yoke of Communism. They are brazen, unabashed and rude. They take over a place, they are loud, they are expressing their new found freedom. They are doing what the early émigrés did escaping the Russian Revolution. They are mimicking those who escaped the Soviet regime. They are feeling freedom for the first time. They have money; they are not waiting in line to buy shoes, or food. They marvel at all the world has to offer, and they want to experience it all.

The advertizing world is taking note of this new Russian wealth. The fine watch maker Breguet has a 2 page ad, quoting an excerpt from Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, because Pushkin mentioned the watch in this poem. The Robb Report has a special super glossy edition for their Russian edition, which has to be delivered in plain brown paper envelopes to prevent its theft. Breguet and The Robb Report, The Global Luxury Source are doing their homework, are you?

By Alexandra Seigel, Partner - Napa Consultants, International

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