A previously lost Fabergé egg has been found by Mayfair jeweller Wartski in the American Midwest.
After a multi-million pound sale earlier this year, the buyer
has agreed the Third Imperial Fabergé
Easter Egg, its whereabouts unknown for more than a century, will
go on public display in London for four days in the run up to
Until the rediscovery in near miraculous circumstances, eight of
the 50 eggs made to unique designs by Carl Fabergé for the doomed
Russian Royal family, were deemed missing with only three of those
believed to have survived the Revolution.
This Fabergé egg, a diminutive 3.25in (8.2cm) high and made in
yellow gold set with cabochon sapphires and rose diamonds, opens
via a brilliant-cut diamond pushpiece to reveal a watch with
diamond-set hands by the Swiss maker Vacheron Constantin. Made in
the workshop of Fabergé's chief-jeweller August Holmström in St
Petersburg, 1886-1887, it was given by Alexander III to the Empress
Maria Feodorovna in 1887, making this the third of the Imperial
It was last seen in public 112 years ago when it was
photographed in the Von Dervis Mansion exhibition of the Imperial
family's Fabergé collection in St Petersburg in March 1902. It was
later confiscated by the Bolsheviks and recorded in a Moscow
inventory in 1922 at the time when many Imperial treasures were
sold to the West.
Scholars feared it had been melted for its considerable gold
content but in 2011 the discovery of a grainy black and white
photograph of the egg in a 1964 Parke-Bernet auction catalogue
offered the possibility at least that it was still awaiting
rediscovery - and a spectacular reattribution.
At the time it was described simply as a 'gold watch in egg form
case' and had sold for $2450 (£875 in 1964). In an article written
for The Telegraph in August 2011, Kieran McCarthy, Fabergé
expert at Wartski, had speculated it could today be worth around
Flea Market Discovery
Meanwhile it seems a part-time dealer in the Midwest of America
had bought the egg at a bric-a-brac market paying $14,000 for what
he predicted was $14,500 worth of bullion. As it happened he had
overestimated its scrap value (the egg has several scratches where
its gold content has been sampled) and it was with a sense of
despair earlier this year that he keyed the words 'egg' and
'Vacheron Constantin' into Google. It was then that The
Telegraph article caught his eye prompting a succession of
sleepless nights and a flight to London to visit Wartski who have
handled 12 Imperial eggs in their long history
Shown a series of images of the egg, Mr McCarthy was
almost certain a lost Imperial treasure had been found, but to
confirm its authenticity he travelled to a small town in the
Mid-West where he was shown into the kitchen of the owner's home.
The Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg was slightly smaller than a
large cupcake positioned next to it.
Wartski have acquired the egg for a private collector, making
the finder an art-historical lottery winner (although the price has
not been revealed). The buyer has allowed the egg to go on public
display for four days (April 14-17 from 9.30am to 5pm) in a
specially designed exhibition at Wartski (14 Grafton Street, London
W1S 4DE). Entrance will be free, but queues are expected.
Two other of the original eight missing Imperial eggs are known
to have survived the Russian Revolution. They are the 1889
Necessaire Egg (heavily chased gold, set with pearls and gemstones,
without a stand, containing 13 miniature toilet articles) and last
recorded at Wartski in June 1952. The 1888 Cherub Egg with Chariot
(a gold egg resting in a chariot drawn by a cherub) was last
recorded with Armand Hammer in New York in 1934.
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