The Lost Third Imperial Easter Egg was made by Peter Carl Fabergé
as a gift for Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1887.
The 8.2 cm (3.2 inches) tall egg, made from gold and studded with
diamonds and sapphires, was last displayed in St Petersburg in 1902.
It was seized by the Bolsheviks during the 1917 Russian Revolution
and mysteriously made its way to the United States.
By chance, an unidentified man bought it at a market in the U.S.
Midwest for $14,000, intending to sell it for scrap. Unable to find
a buyer, he searched the Internet and realized that he may have
found Empress Maria Feodorovna's lost Easter egg.
London antiques dealer Wartski, which specializes in the work of
Fabergé, bought the egg for an unidentified private collector who
has permitted it to go on show in its small showroom near London's
luxury shopping strip Bond Street.
"For the art historical community and for the Fabergé world, I think
we had to say that it was found. It's like finding a missing
Rembrandt and you didn't tell anybody," Kieran McCarthy, director of
Wartski, told Reuters.
"It may disappear again and may not be seen for, who knows — I would
not be surprised if it didn't come out for another 112 years," he
Slightly taller than a cup cake, the ridged yellow gold egg sits on
its original tripod with lion paw feet. It is encircled with gold
flower garlands strung from cabochon blue sapphires topped with rose
Like all Fabergé's eggs, it contains a "surprise" — a lady's watch
by Vacheron Constantin with a white enamel face and diamond-set gold
hands. The watch has been taken from its case and mounted in the Egg
so it can be displayed upright.
The egg was made in the St Petersburg workshop of Fabergé's chief
jeweler August Holmstrom between 1886 and 1887.
"In the hierarchy of Fabergé objects, the egg occupies the very,
very highest level," said McCarthy. "They each took a year to make
from the original conception to the completion of it for delivery on
Good Friday each Easter."
[to top of second column]
Fabergé eggs are considered masterpieces, affordable only by royalty
or the very rich. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some
newly wealthy Russians have become enthusiastic collectors of
Metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg bought a collection of Fabergé
Imperial Easter Eggs for $90 million from the Forbes family in 2004.
The eggs were taken back to Moscow and put on exhibition in the
A Russian businessman with a passion for Tsarist treasures,
Alexander Ivanov, said he was behind the $18.5 million purchase of a
Fabergé egg in London in 2007.
The Third Imperial Easter Egg is one of 50 delivered by Fabergé to
Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916, and until
its recent discovery was one of eight lost eggs. Only two others of
these lost eggs are thought to have survived the revolution.
"It just shows that you never know," said McCarthy, when asked
whether hope remains that the other two will be found. "We never
thought this one would turn up and literally it was on somebody who
walked through the front door."
The Lost Third Imperial Easter Egg can be seen from April 14 to 17
at Wartski's showroom in London.
(Editing by Lynne O'Donnell)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.