Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera—also known as Maria Adela or Adela Serein—had what investigative publication Bellingcat called “an exotic backstory.”
The life story of “Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera” reads like the script of an episode of the crime series The blacklist, proving that Soviet espionage techniques are back from never before in 2022.
According to Bellingcat, Rivera (pictured) told friends that she was born in Peru, to a Peruvian mother and German father. Her mother traveled to the Soviet Union for the 1980 Olympic Games, but then left due to an emergency, leaving the young child stranded in the Soviet Union.
Adela said that she was raised by a Russian family her mother befriended, but her adoptive mother was so abusive, she decided she would never live in Russia. She instead moved away, studied gemology, had a brief marriage (her husband was said to have died), then became a jewelry designer, opening up a swanky jewelry boutique, called Serein, in Naples, Italy, where she forged connections with the city’s elite.
In Naples, she would have her most successful years as a spy. She dove into the life of high society there and in 2015 even became secretary and one of the most active members of a Lions Club, a service club that practices charity. Through that, she came into contact with a lot of Navo personnel.
Last month, Bellingcat—in an investigation done in cooperation with German newspaper Der Spiegel, Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and Russia’s The Insider—reported that Adela’s real identity was Russian citizen Olga Kolobova, believed to be a Russian “illegal” or deep-cover spy.
The site said it unmasked Adela using a mix of open-source data, public data from Peru (where Adela once tried and failed to gain citizenship), leaked Russian databases, and interviews with her friends.
Adela registered her Serein jewelry brand in Paris in 2012, and later established the Serein SRL business in Naples.
According to Bellingcat, which did a reverse image search on Serein’s items, the “self-branded jewelry sold in ‘Maria Adela’s’ boutique and touted on its website as ‘made in Napoli’ appeared to be inexpensive jewelry purchased from Chinese online wholesalers.”
Adela, who was described as “glamorous and impeccably dressed,” attended at least one jewelry trade show—Jewellery Arabia—where, according to a Serein Facebook post, she presented cufflinks to now-deceased Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the prime minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain. She also told one friend that she had attended jewelry exhibitions in Switzerland and Germany.
Adela could not be reached for comment, and apparently not much has been heard from her since September 2018, when she reportedly took a one-way flight from Naples to Moscow, shortly after Bellingcat unmasked some Russian agents with similar passport numbers.
In November 2018, she put up a Facebook post that alluded to “chemo.” “Missing everything but trying to breathe,” she wrote. “Thank you to all the people who have not stopped ‘bombing’ me with messages these past 5 months!!!”
In December 2021, she reportedly sent a What’sApp text to one of the friends she made in her jewelry days, saying “There are a lot of things which I can’t and never be able to explain! But missing you a lot and very very much.”
The Russian embassy in Italy responded to the investigation with a sarcastic cartoon, and below it the text, “If you see Russian spies popping up everywhere, you must be reading La Repubblica too often.”