One of Seven “Lost” Imperial Faberge Eggs Found at Flea Market
One man’s trash turned out to be Russia’s priceless treasure.
An unidentified man made the deal of a lifetime when he picked up a genuine Faberge egg at a flea market in a small town in the U.S. Midwest for $14,000.
During one of his routine trips to the local flea market, he spied a small golden ornament on a vendor’s overcrowded table. It was barely three inches long, with an elaborately designed pedestal which held a ridged golden egg. When he pushed on the diamond in the center, the egg opened to reveal a beautifully crafted antique clock face.
He was drawn to purchase the trinket, thinking that he could turn a quick profit by selling it to scrap metal dealers who would take it apart and melt down the gold. After going to several dealers, he came back disappointed – he was told that he had overestimated the value of the gold and gems.
Little did they know that the whole egg was worth more than the sum of its parts, with an estimated value at over $33 million.
He found out the egg’s true worth by Google searching “egg” and “Vacheron Constantin”, the name engraved on the back of the watch. It lead him to an article detailing the history of Faberge eggs and a picture of the very same egg that he had before him.
He then contacted Kieran McCarthy, a renowned London-based antiques dealer who was quoted in the article. After seeing the photographs, McCarthy boarded a plane to the U.S. Midwest to view the egg in person. He confirmed it was indeed an original Faberge, and then facilitated a deal with a private collector to purchase the egg. Neither the identity of the man who found the artifact, its sale price, nor the private collector’s identity was revealed.
The egg is part of an exclusive collection of 54 Faberge eggs to have ever been created. It was an Easter gift given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife, Maria Feodorovna in 1887. The tradition started in 1885, when royal jeweler Peter Carl Faberge presented the first ‘The Hen’ Faberge egg to the Tsar and Tsarina. They loved it so much that he was assigned to create one egg a year thereafter by Tsar Alexander III. When his son succeeded him as Tsar, he ordered Faberge to have two made every year; one for his mother and one for his wife. The Russian royal family lived a life of such decadence and excess that they did not care for an item’s intrinsic value. Instead, they prized these eggs for their exquisite craftsmanship.
During the Bolshevik revolution, all of the eggs were sold off as part of a policy known as “Treasures into Tractors”. According to Carl Faberge, 42 of them have survived today. The whereabouts of the rest are unknown, believed to be destroyed or perhaps still out there waiting to be discovered.
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