Sunday, April 21, 2019

How the World’s Most Expensive Easter Egg Ended Up in a US Flea Market as Scrap Metal

This is such an odd story and the final disposition of the egg makes  it all the stranger.

From The Observer:
In the world of Easter eggs, the rarest and most sought-after has to be the Russian Fabergé Eggs, a collection of 50 lavishly decorated Easter eggs owned by the Russian royal family in the late 19th century.

Many eggs in the original collection were lost by the royal family during the Russian Revolution in 1917 and ended up in the hands of foreign private collectors and museums a few years later. But one of oldest eggs—and arguably the most expensive one in the collection—wasn’t rediscovered until nearly 100 years after its last sighting. And the egg wouldn’t have found its deserving place had it not been for an accidental Google search in 2012.

The hidden gem in question was the Third Imperial Fabergé Egg, a jeweled and ridged yellow gold egg standing on its original tripod pedestal with a surprise Vacheron Constantin lady’s watch inside.
Created by Imperial Russia’s famed jeweler, the House of Fabergé, between 1886 ad 1887 for the Russian Tsar Alexander III as an Easter gift to his wife, the Third Imperial Fabergé Egg was kept by Russian royalty for 30 years before being confiscated by the Moscow Kremlin Armoury during the revolution. 

In 1922, the Kremlin Armoury handed the egg to the government of the newly formed Soviet Union.
After that, its provenance was lost. The egg somehow made its way to America and was sold at a New York auction for just $2,450 without its documentation in 1964.
 The Third Fabergé Imperial Easter Egg contains a surprise Vacheron Constantin lady’s watch inside.  
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Four decades later, the egg resurfaced in a Midwestern flea market in the U.S., when a scrap metal dealer purchased it for $13,302 for its intrinsic gold and gem value.

It wasn’t until 2012 when the buyer discovered through a random Google search that the egg was, in fact, the missing Fabergé Egg once owned by Russian royalty.

In 2014, the egg was sold in a London auction to British antique dealer Wartski on behalf of an unidentified collector. The dealer didn’t reveal the amount it paid, but some estimates valued the egg as high as $33 million, making it the most expensive Fabergé Egg ever traded on the private market....MORE

The Lost Fabergé Eggs
Since 2010 we've posted most of the Fabergé Imperial (and one non-imperial) eggs.
However by Easter 1917 the eggs were no longer "Imperial", the Tsar had been forced to abdicate (March 15) and the invoice for the first of the 1917 eggs was sent to "Mr. Romanov, Nikolai Aleksandrovich".

Well, on the night of 16-17 July 1918 the Bolshi boys shot clubbed and bayoneted the Romanovs to death and that was that for the eggs.

Except for the seven missing eggs.
It had been eight but in 2014 a scrap metal dealer found one, an odd story we highlighted a couple times. Here's

"That Time An Imperial Russian Fabergé Egg With A Vacheron Constantin Watch Inside Was Discovered At A Midwestern Flea Market And Became The Most Expensive Timepiece On Earth"

From Hodinkee, Wristwatch News:
In one of those stunning stories only made possible by the Internet, in 2012 a man turned to Google to search for "Vacheron & Constantin" and "egg" to find that the jewel-encrusted gold egg housing a Vacheron watch he purchased for $13,302 in the early 2000s at a Midwestern flea market was in fact an 1887 birthday gift for Tsar Alexander III from Peter Carl Fabergé. It has now sold privately for millions, likely making it the most expensive timepiece on earth. 
The unnamed individual stumbled on a 2011 Telegraph article entitled "Is this £20 million nest-egg on your mantelpiece?" The egg was the third of 54 Fabergé eggs owned by the Russian royal family and had been lost since 1922. It is recorded that in 1922 this egg was transferred from the Kremlin Armoury, which had confiscated the eggs in 1917 when the Tsar was overthrown, to the special plenipotentiary of the Council of People's Commissars, Ivan Gavrilovich Chinariov. Beyond the written records, a 1902 photograph of the egg on exhibition in St. Petersburg also survived....MORE
There is something fishy about this story as there is with many tales of Russian loot. The "junk dealer" almost immediately resold the egg in a private transaction not at auction, and no names were disclosed.
If interested there is also "Find of the century? U.S. scrap dealer finds $20 million Faberge egg"

Here's the latest on the world's most interesting Easter egg hunt. From the Daily Mail, January 5, 2018:
Is lost £30million Faberge egg in a Preston bank vault? Family of British Cold War 'spy' say the Russian treasure may have been locked away in a safety deposit box when he died