In 1917, Putilov was forced to leave his homeland, but he always wished him well. And the whole life of Alexei Ivanovich is an indicator of what a person can achieve, who has set himself significant goals.
The article is based on the material of the program “Brothers” of the radio station Ekho Moskvy. The broadcast was conducted by Nargiz Asadova and Leonid Matsikh. Fully read and listen to the original interview can be on the link.
Typologically, the business environment is very similar to the Masonic. For the "brothers" it does not matter at all who the person is by nationality, by religion, only his spiritual and intellectual qualities are important. For entrepreneurs, by and large, the origin, nationality, faith of a person also does not matter. Commercial spirit, education, intelligence, entrepreneurial acumen, business pressure, success - that is the main thing. And in this sense, when an entrepreneurial class began to form in Russia, at the end of the reign of Alexander II, under Alexander III and under Nicholas II, a very significant number of freemason brothers began to go into entrepreneurship of various kinds. In addition, industrialists who had fallen out financially and acquired a completely different world view, a different outlook, began to come to the masonic lodges.
Alexey Ivanovich Putilov
But let's move on to the personality of our main character. Putilov came from a family that occupied a fairly high position in Russia. Father is a secret adviser, a great-uncle is an entrepreneur and owner of factories. As a result, Alexey Ivanovich brilliantly graduated from the university, received an excellent legal education. He was offered a professorial career, but he refused and went through the bureaucratic path: our hero was attracted by practical actions, in this he saw his direct benefit to the Motherland.
Putilov and the official was excellent: initiative, intelligent, always defended his opinion. These are exactly the kind of people who were welcomed and noticed by Sergei Yulievich Vitte, one of the most prominent statesmen of Russia. Under him, our hero was a friend of the Minister of Finance. He later left the government and devoted himself to what is called private business.
As for the Masonic career of Alexei Ivanovich, he initially entered the Kosmos box, and then, after emigration, a few more: in the Great Lodge of France, in the Great East, in the Scottish workshop box. Putilov by that time was over 30 years old, he was already quite mature and determined person. In general, Alexey Ivanovich was a man of quick decisions. It, by the way, was noted by many and, probably, caused such a fantastic career in business. Putilov somehow instantly grasped the situation, knew how to make correct conclusions.
When Aleksey Ivanovich got acquainted with the teachings of the Masons and with some of the “brothers” personally, he immediately made the decision to join the freemasons and never disappointed in this. By the way, Putilov's authority (and his authority grew, and in line with his career success, and according to the growth of his condition) in many ways attracted a large number of significant characters to the Cosmos box.
In Cosmos, our hero was offered the place of a master chair, chairman and president (which is quite natural, since he was one of the richest people in the empire), but he refused it. In this case, it is necessary to note one feature of Alexei Ivanovich: he was not an ambitious person, that is, he knew his own worth and never pursued external manifestations of status.
Sergei Witte as Minister of Finance. Photo of 1902
In general, in this sense, Putilov was an amazing person. At that time he had a huge fortune, he was the fifth richest man in the empire, one of the richest people in Europe. He was compared to American millionaires, and he was in a lost jacket at a meeting of the board of the bank, one of the largest in the world. Aleksey Ivanovich didn’t follow his wardrobe at all, he could eat some rusk with sprat, although he had the opportunity to taste any delicacies in the world. Our hero was indifferent to external manifestations of status, the main place in his life was occupied by work.
The only thing in which he was a big fuss and a snob was in a smoke. Putilov was a heavy smoker, smoked almost continuously. And the more difficult the negotiations were, the stronger the thing he smoked. He started with a cigarette, then lit a cigar. And the longer the cigarette mouthpiece was, the easier the meetings were. On the cartoons, Alexey Ivanovich was always depicted in a jacket, in such a shabby one, always in the mountains of tobacco ash, shrouded in clouds of smoke. He was a smoker completely incorrigible. But despite this, by the way, refuting many medical projections, he lived a long and fairly healthy life.
We mentioned Sergey Yulievich Witte a bit in passing, and yet he is an absolutely key character in Putilov’s biography. Without the patronage of Witte, without the school that our hero passed under his leadership, without the invaluable skills that he acquired while serving in the Ministry of Finance, Aleksey Ivanovich would not have become either a brilliant official or a brilliant financier.
As mentioned above, our hero was the great-nephew of the famous businessman Nikolai Ivanovich Putilov. Under Nicholas I, his namesake, great-uncle Aleksei Ivanovich made an entire factory out of ordinary manufacture, which became one of the most powerful enterprises in the entire history of Russian industry. Putilovsky plant developed new designs of bridges, produced railway rails, knew a lot about artillery guns. Our hero did not inherit the factory of his grandfather, but later, thanks to his activities as an entrepreneur, as a financier, he saved up enough money to become one of the largest shareholders of this glorious enterprise.
By the way, the Putilovsky factory never dealt in trivia, did not let out, let's say, dishes or any homemade trinkets. All things were very significant: rails, locomotives, cars, guns, and even tanks during World War II.
Nikolai Ivanovich Putilov. Portrait of Peter Borel. The World Illustration Magazine, 1880
Alexey Ivanovich Putilov, being a banker, financier, industrialist, acted as an investor. That is, he was the owner of a huge number of enterprises. When he saw that the enterprise was profitable, he immediately invested funds there. And, by the way, this was a signal both for the stock exchange and for all the rest of his fellow financiers: if Putilov invested money, then it would be worthwhile.
For example, Aleksey Ivanovich was the chairman or board member of the Petroleum Production Association "G. M. Lianozov and Sons ”, the Society of electric batteries“ Rex ”, the Russian Society“ Siemens-Shukkert ”, the Petersburg Society of Transmission Power of Waterfalls and so on.
It is worth paying attention to the fact that among the listed enterprises there is not one for the production of vodka (always the most profitable), no food production, no sausages, no beer, no tobacco. This shows, firstly, the scope of Putilov, and secondly, the fact that our hero considered it necessary to invest his considerable resources in the industrialization of Russia. This radically distinguished Alexei Ivanovich from other industrialists who were only concerned about their profits. Putilov, of course, also did not forget about his interest, but he believed that it was necessary to help move Russia's industrial power forward, that is, to bring it to the European level, and not to develop some industries that, however, will bring profit today, but Russia's prospect as a great power will not give anything. That is, he thought very promising and was a real innovator and modernizer. In this regard, in Russia, he had few equal.
Putilov was friends with very large figures of that time: with a young academician Kapitsa, with the most educated Krasin, with the chairman of the French part of the Russian-Asian Bank Doriz, with an outstanding philosopher, diplomat, cultural scientist, French Ambassador to Russia Maurice Palaeologom and others.
Unlike other "brothers", Aleksey Ivanovich did not collect the Masonic library. Gathering in general was alien to him. He considered it, let's say, a waste of money. Putilov House on Mytninskaya embankment in St. Petersburg was fairly modestly furnished. Alexey Ivanovich was such an ascetic. Unfortunately, he paid little attention to the family.
By love, Putilov was married to Mrs. Zeyfart (nee). They had several children. And here is a curious stroke that characterizes our hero. His daughter Maria, in girlhood, fell in love, as is often the case with young ladies, with a young man who was probably endowed with all the virtues, but stood on the social ladder below Putilova. And she asked her father to bless their marriage. Putilov refused. She said: "I will commit suicide." Putilov did not believe it. And what? She took a lethal dose of arsenic (just like a melodrama) and passed away. And her failed groom, having learned about the death of her beloved, shot himself on their landing. And how did Putilov react to this? He said: "Well, we still lacked a cheap operetta." It was a hard person, a hard one ... But perhaps another would not have “knocked out” such a state.
Advertising Society Putilov factories, 1902
In addition to economic, Putilov had a powerful political flair. In 1915, he predicted to his confidant, Maurice Paleologue, that a revolution was coming, that the autocracy would collapse. (Our hero in general had a very unflattering opinion of both autocracy as a form of government, and Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar). He said that Russia will expect times that will be worse than the Pugachev's, that there will be a soldier’s revolution, then a working one and, eventually, a peasant one. And all this will end in anarchy and a sea of blood. And, as usual, he was right.
After the February Revolution, when power in the country passed to the Provisional Government, Putilov together with Alexander Ivanovich Vyshnegradsky created the Society for the Economic Renaissance of Russia, which included representatives of a number of major banks and insurance companies of Petrograd.
Our hero actively supported General Lavr Kornilov, provided financial assistance to his supporters. After the failure of the Kornilov speech, he was forced to flee from Petrograd. Well, and then the October Revolution, after which Putilov's movable and immovable property was confiscated by a special decree of the SNK.
In 1918, he was in China and the CER line — he saved the assets of his Russian-Asian bank, which was originally Russian-Chinese. Then he ended up in Vladivostok, then in Shanghai, and finally reached Paris. From there Putilov helped the White movement, actively supporting him with money. And then ... He saw that the Bolsheviks had become stronger, and with all his dislike for them, he nevertheless initiated a meeting with his old friend and colleague and, by the way, Freemason Leonid Borisovich Krasin, who was Commissar for Trade and Industry of the RSFSR. They met in Paris and in London. Putilov really submitted proposals to the Soviet government for assistance in monetary reform, wanted to return, to give part of the assets that were placed in the Far East and in Europe to the bank. But the Bolsheviks rejected these proposals.
Somehow this information, in general, quite confidential, leaked to the press. Perhaps after the death of Krasin, who died suddenly, and part of his papers, not intended for publicity, got into the newspapers. And for that, the emigre press hounded Putilov. In the end, he went into a kind of exile, lived in private life.
Being in emigration, Alexey Ivanovich did not create any industrial enterprises. However, he organized new banks, new financial institutions. Unfortunately, not one of them has survived to this day. The Russian-Asian Bank successfully existed before the Second World War, which was a catastrophe and cleaner than