Things were not going well at all for Nicholas II in 1916 and on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution, having seen the writing on the wall, he had a vast collection of his family's jewelry and art secretly taken out of the country. Much of it to the Côte d'Azur in southern France, which was being spared the ravages of WWI, and where the Imperial family, like much northern European aristocracy, had often waited out the cold, gray winters of home.

When the Russian royals were shot to death in July 1918, the family's home in Nice swarmed with diplomats, lawyers and "relatives", and when the inventory of the estate was finally complete, there was a lot missing. A hell of a lot, -including the 77 carat, uncut El Deora diamond, which Nicholas had intended to present to the Empress Aleksandra for their 25th anniversary in 1919.

The trail is long and twisted. A reclusive multi-millionaire, a Nazi-era German industrialist, a secret society, a South American crime syndicate, and now an empty Pensacola warehouse, two dead gangsters and a twitchy broad with a heavy accent and a large handgun that I don't know if I can trust...

77 El Deora
Oblique Americana: Rough and Uncut