Review of the book “Two Aces in the Bank”
Vagrius publishes “Two Aces in the Bank,” a book by the famed jeweler Andrey Ananov.
Ananov has become a living legend. “The story of Cinderella - recounted in the first-person” would be an apt title of the new book by this fabulously-talented maverick, a person who was able to combine the disparate qualities of artist and entrepreneur and bring them vividly to life.
“If I had followed the advice of my seafaring friends, I might have become a merchant seaman.
Or, as a trained director, I could have staged plays and taught students at the Theatrical Institute. Finally, I could have fallen into despair and drunken myself to death, like so many talented people of my generation.
But I was lucky. I survived. I finally found my own way...”
Today, Ananov is not that far removed from Faberge. What happens tomorrow, only time will tell. But it’s all to Ananov’s credit. He discusses the details of his biography honestly and frankly, without resorting to such trite claims to humility as “I was just lucky” or “I was fortunate to have a God-given talent.”
Ananov relays how he took risks, fought tooth-and-nail. How he clawed his way to the top, risking his own hide in the process. He risked his very freedom.. And yes, he got lucky – he won. But in order to win, he first had to start playing. At a time when everyone else was afraid to.
“A haggard, unshaven man just jolted back to life after just-over two minutes of clinical death, dressed in a sterile hospital gown - that was Andrey Ananov. He was thirty-two years old, had already seen and experienced a great deal, was full of risk-taking - even recklessness - and a true passion for life, and wanted nothing more at that moment than a glass of fine champagne and a good cigarette.”
More than anything, Ananov impresses not for his luckiness, but rather for his tremendous and innate sense of self-worth and self-confidence – paradoxically-rare qualities for those who managed to survive life in the Soviet Union.
In that way, Ananov’s memoirs are less “How to Make a Million” and more “How to Squeeze Out Every Last Drop.” Which is precisely what makes them so valuable.
“I remember one incident in Italy, in 1992. I had received the European Gold Medal in Genoa at a jewelry exhibition timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus. My buddy, a Frenchman, who never let go of his photo- and video-camera as he captured the passing celebrities attending the final evening, the award ceremonies, suddenly said to me:
- Go stand over there, next to that artist. That’s... - And he dropped the incredibly-impressive celebrity name. - I’ll take a picture of you.
I smiled and answered:
- I’ll go over, and keep standing there until the others start thinking it’s an honor to be standing next to me...
I waited several years. And it finally happened.”