The figure is modelled on Mikhail Antonovich Gurie, the Swiss manager of Carl Fabergé’s St Petersburg flagship shop from 1900-18.
Affable, energetic and multilingual, Gurie would deliver objects to the Russian court and Emperor Nicholas II would consult him on purchases. Empress Maria Feodorovna referred to him as ‘my little Gurie’.
Measuring 2¼in (5.7cm) high, the cup is engineered to balance at three different points of the head when turned upside down. It was knocked down just over estimate at £19,000.