The newly found ‘lost’ Third Imperial Easter Egg by Carl Fabergé, which has just been sold for a reported US$33 million, will go on public display next month.
The Egg, which was an 1887 Easter gift from Russian Czar Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna, was last seen in public in 1902 at an exhibition of imperial treasures in St. Petersburg.
It will be exhibited at the Wartski antique dealership in London, where it was officially ‘found’, from April 14-17.
According to Wartski director Kieran McCarthy, a scrap metal dealer bought the Egg at a flea market in the American mid-west for US$14,000 as neither he nor the seller were aware it was a Fabergé egg.
The scrap metal dealer planned to sell the Egg for “a quick $15,000”, slightly more than the gold value alone, as it contained a Vacheron Constantin watch, but couldn’t find an interested buyer.
The man then searched online for ‘Egg’ and ‘Vacheron Constantin’ and discovered an article on Fabergé eggs that quoted McCarthy and showed a picture of the missing Imperial Egg.
He then flew to London and presented McCarthy with a picture of his Egg.
“It was like the Holy Grail walking through the front of our gallery,” said McCarthy. “I was absolutely shivering with excitement.”
McCarthy flew to the man’s home where he saw the egg sitting on a kitchen bench “next to a cupcake”.
Since then the Egg has been formally identified as the missing Third Imperial Easter Egg by Carl Fabergé and sold to a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.
According to McCarthy, the 8.2cm tall Egg was made in the workshop of Fabergé’s chief jeweller in St. Petersburg in 1886-1887.
He said that although the Egg has some gemstones missing it is in very good condition.
“The jewelled and ridged yellow gold Egg stands on its original tripod pedestal, which has chased lion paw feet and is encircled by coloured gold garlands suspended from cabochon blue sapphires topped with rose diamond set bows.
“It contains a Vacheron Constantin lady’s watch with a white enamel dial and openwork diamond-set gold hands.”
Fifty Imperial Easter Eggs were delivered by Carl Fabergé to Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916.
The Third Imperial Easter Egg was until its recent rediscovery among the eight Imperial Fabergé Eggs ‘lost’ during the Russian Revolution.
In 2011 Fabergé researchers Vincent and Anna Palmade discovered the Egg had made its way to the West and was sold without its provenance for US$2450 at a New York auction in 1964.
McCarthy concluded: “We are antique dealers, so we doubt everything but this story is so wonderful you couldn’t really make it up − it is beyond fiction and in the legends of antique dealing, there is nothing quite like this.”