Nicolas V. Iljine

Born 10 September 1944 in Paris.  Father, Professor Vladimir Nikolayevich Iljine (Orthodox theologian and philosopher), who left Russia in 1919, and taught liturgics and history of medieval philosophy at the Theological Institute in Paris, 1920-1940.  Mother, Vera Nikolayevna Iljine, née Poundick, who left Russia in 1927. My parents met in Paris and married in 1935. My sister Helene Gourdon, née Iljine was 9 years older than me and died in 1971.

Educated in Great Britain and France, studied mathematics at the Sorbonne and then specialized in Public Relations.
Married Christa Mettenheimer in 1964 in Frankfurt, originally met her at Michael Hall School in Forest Row, Sussex in 1956.
We have 2 children, Diana *1964 and Mischka *1967
And two grandchildren: Elena *2001 and Sophie * 2014.


  • 1968-1994. Lufthansa, the leading German airline company. Beginning in marketing and sales, he promoted regular air links between the USSR and the FRG. In 1971, moved to the PR department. First as manager for European countries, then as general manager for the world. Among his other duties, he elaborated and implemented sponsorship programs in culture, especially in the fine arts.
  • 1994-July 2008. Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Director for corporate development, sponsorship, and PR in Europe and the Near East. Played a key role in creating and implementing such museum projects as Guggenheim Bilbao, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin with Deutsche Bank, Guggenheim-Hermitage in Las Vegas, and the beginning of the development of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Curated architectural competitions for designing museum in Lithuania and Mexico.
  • July 2008-January 2010. GCAM (Global Cultural Asset Management Group), New York, headed by Thomas Krens. Vice-President for International Development, involving issues of museum construction, collection building, management programming, and art investment. Worked jointly with famous French architect Jean Nouvel on the design of the Museum of Modern Art in Baku.
  • February 2010—present. Consultant on international cooperation to several European cultural institutions. Appointed “Advisor to the General Director of the State Hermitage” in November 2014.

Some Highlights

  • September 2000. Iljine forced the Ministry of Culture of France to hand over 6 works by the Russian artist Pavel Filonov, stolen in the late 1970s from the State Russian Museum in Leningrad and illegally taken out of the country. The Russian side had spent over a decade unsuccessfully trying to get the works back.
  • Took active part in the organization of numerous exhibitions of Russian art, including:
  • The Great Utopia,
  • Chagall’s Jewish Theater,
  • Amazons of the Avant-Garde,
  • Semyon An-Sky : The Jewish Artistic Heritage
  • Kazimir Malevich.Suprematism,
  • RUSSIA !, which was opened in 2005
  • The Heap – poem by Peretz Markish 1920
  • For three years during the Art Basel Miami fair organized annual exhibition of Russian contemporary art.
  • Organized a seminar for Russian art critics at the graduate school of the Städelschule Institute of Arts in Frankfurt-am-Main.
  • As a member of the Friendship Society of the USSR-FRG in the 1970s-1980s, he executed numerous programs and events in cultural exchange. Thus, on Iljine’s initiative in 1981, the first Festival of Soviet Film from the 15 Union republics was held in the FRG, in Frankfurt, Berlin, and Munich.
  • Iljine donated the Paris archive of his father, the philosopher Vladimir Iljine, to the Russkoe Zarubezhye Foundation during the formal opening of the House of Russia Abroad in Moscow.
  • The book launch for Vladimir Iljine’s book “Fire of Worlds” was held at the House of Russia Abroad. Nicolas Iljine edited and prepared the literary philosophical essays for publication.
  • Nicolas Iljine donated his library on twentieth-century art, several thousand books and magazines on Russian and Western art of the 1920s-2010s, to the art history department of Moscow State University.

Publications as author, editor, or co-publisher include

  • 8 Illustrated publications for Lufthansa on flight—myths and legends
  • Sold Treasures of Russia, Trilistnik, Moscow, 2000. And enhanced Russian edition 2019 SLOVO Publishers
  • Odessa Memories, University of Washington Press, 2003
  • Pass to Paradise, Vagrius, Moscow, 2008
  • Nikolai Suetin, Palace Editions, St. Petersburg, 2008
  • Fire of Worlds,  Progress-Traditsia, Moscow 2009
  • Memories of Baku, Marquand Books, Seattle 2013
  • Selling Russia’s Treasures, Abeville Press,New York, 2013
  • Tiflis Memories  expected Autumn 2017
  • Documentary Film on Joseph Brodsky 1991 (30 minutes in Venice)
  • The Heap, poem by Peretz Markish, 1920
  • Memories of Yerevan. 2023

Personal Information

  • September 2006, awarded the Order of Friendship, on order signed by President Putin
  • Founding member of Board of Trustees of Kandinsky Prize
  • Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Arts
  • Married, with two grown children and two granddaughters
  • Russian Orthodox
  • Citizen of France and Russia