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Nicolai Yakovleff was born in Russia and was a colonel in the Russian army during WWI. He did a degree at the Imperial School of law and was an acting State Councillor. Having been a part of the White Russian movement, he fled to Shanghai in 1921 where he joined a law firm. Nicolai collected art during his time in Shanghai through dealers and auctions. His father had also been a collector. Pauline sold much of the collection before she married Solecki, but he maintained the reminder of the collection. Nicolai also collected rare books, and he donated to the UBC library’s Rare Book and Special Collections.