A gift from the King of Prussia to Russian Czar Peter the Great in 1716, an 11 foot square hall lined with amber and other semiprecious stones was presented. The cost of that room today would be about $142 million. Catherine the Great commissioned craftsmen to embellish the room and Catherine then had it moved to her home in Tsarkoye Selo, just outside of St. Petersburg. The craftsmen finished their work in 1770. Art historians Akinsha and Kozlove noted “It was illuminated by 565 candles” The miniature jewelry box was said to be absolutely dazzling.
The “Amber room” which was given in friendship came to symbolize instead, their divisions. In 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. His troops took Tsarskoye Selo, discovered the Amber room and dismantled it. It was packed into 27 crates and shipped to Germany. The Amber room was lost after a ground assault on the city in 1945. A countless number of treasure seekers have scoured land and see to find the Amber room and its fortune. Following the war, the official in charge of the amber shipment reported that the crates were kept in a castle which had been burned down in an air raid. There are some that speculate that the room sank somewhere in the Baltic Sea. For some time, little hope was ever given for finding the treasured Amber room.
In 1997, a group of German art detectives caught wind of someone trying to sell a piece of the work for the son of a German officer who accompanied the wartime trip to Konigsberg. The son claimed he had no idea where or how his father came into possession of the piece, which was a mosaic from the room. In April of that year, Russian President Vladimir Putin was presented with the mosaic along with an inlaid chest from the amber room. Berlin made the presentation as a gesture of goodwill.