Jul 14, 2021
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Why Michael Jackson’s antique checker was taken away

Why Michael Jackson’s antique checker was taken away

At an auction in Moscow, a checker was sold for 15 thousand euros, which was confiscated from the famous Michael Jackson at the airport.

For more than a day, he was the owner of this weapon, donated to the singer by one of Yeltsin’s closest associates.

Such a generous gift, worth about 15 thousand dollars, was made to the singer by Alexander Korzhakov, who by that time had already been dismissed from the post of head of the Security Service of President Yeltsin. But Russian customs officers did not release the historical value from the country – they confiscated the checker right from the side of Jackson’s plane in Sheremetyevo.

A terrible scandal broke out. The singer burst into tears like a child and declared that “there’s no more going to Russia!”, And the angry general decided: all this is the intrigue of the then head of the Kremlin administration, Anatoly Chubais, because of whom he lost his job the day before. In fact, there was no politics in that sensational story.


When a world celebrity arrived in Moscow in September 1996, nothing foreshadowed a scandal. Michael Jackson, making his global tour called “History”, after India and Japan decided to turn to Moscow for the second time in his life. Moreover, the star is very fond of the Russian public.

“During the show, our military band worked with Jackson,” recalls Viktor Shulman, one of the organizers of the Dynamo concert. – When Michael saw the conductor’s uniform with epaulets and aiguillettes, he was already shaking. I want myself the same, he says, and that’s it! Well, we talked with the conductor, and he just gave Jackson his uniform. The singer liked everything related to the military. It was not in vain that he went to Alabino a day later, where the Taman division was stationed. There they went to meet him and staged a real military parade.


Meanwhile, the question of the historical value of Korzhakov’s drafts was asked not in the Kremlin or in the Lubyanka, but in the journalistic kitchen of one of the country’s central newspapers. It was decided that journalists from the international department would be involved in the investigation.

The very history of the Anninsky award weapon turned out to be interesting. The name is unofficial. It referred to sabers, daggers, checkers, which were awarded to junior officers of the Russian army for military services. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was about commanders with the rank of captain.

For the first time, the insignia of the Order of St. Anna, IV degree, was attached to the hilt of a weapon in 1815. Since 1829, the inscription “For courage” began to be engraved on the guard of the weapon. All these signs and marks were on Korzhakov’s checker.

It turned out that the St. Petersburg firm – the manufacturer of the blade “Shaf and Sons” mainly provided the capital’s officers with its products.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Germans Shafy were forced to leave Russia. That is why it can be assumed that the owner of the award combat checker of the model of 1909 (from 1909 to 1914 the Russian army did not fight) was the owner of the award combat checker of the 1909 model of the year (from 1909 to 1914 the Russian army did not fight) was a junior officer from St. wars – in 1914. It was at this time that the Russian guard, thrown into offensive battles in East Prussia, distinguished themselves for the first time at the front.

The fact that the fate of the owner of the weapon who ended up in the collection of Korzhakov could have been quite dramatic is confirmed by special orders of the Soviet government from 1918, including a special order for the Petrograd military district. By this order, officers who agreed to serve in the Red Army and who had an award weapon were allowed to wear it without removing their order insignia.

It can therefore be assumed that the owner of the checker donated to Michael Jackson was a tsarist officer who went over to the service of the Bolsheviks. The fate of such a person is easily miscalculated: in 1937 or earlier – an inevitable execution, and then the saber could be among the confiscated goods – the production of the NKVD. If the saber was kept in the family as a relic, then they did it with great risk: the sign of the tsarist order could cause severe repression.


We must pay tribute to the museum workers: after conducting an examination, they did not find grounds for issuing a permit to export the checkers abroad. Experts have recognized the dignity of the weapon as a historical and artistic relic. Moreover, neither General Korzhakov himself nor his assistants even tried to obtain official permission to export the checkers outside the country.

“The customs returned me the checker taken from Jackson the very next day, and the experts confirmed that it was not of historical value and wouldn’t pull more than nine hundred dollars at any auction,” Aleksandr Korzhakov was sure until the very end.

However, today it is known for certain that the Auction House put up the weapon for sale and raised 15 thousand dollars.

Antiques experts believe that this is not the limit. If this award-winning officer’s weapon went abroad, now its cost would be more than 300 thousand dollars.

As for Anatoly Chubais, back in 1996, when asked by journalists whether he took the checker away from Korzhakov, he replied: “I have heard about this for the first time. I don’t know about any checkers. If Alexander Vasilyevich’s weapon was taken away, well, everyone is equal before the law.

Sergey Kron.

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