Royal Faberge egg worth £20m found at market

It is something all antique enthusiasts dream about - unearthing a rare gem at a market that turns out to be worth millions.

And for a man in the US the dream came true when a golden egg he bought from a bric-a-brac stall in the Midwest so he could sell it for scrap turned out to be a Faberge egg worth about £20m ($33m).

The scrap metal dealer, who has not been named, paid just £8,000 ($13,000) for the treasure.

He planned to sell it for scrap value, but the egg was saved from destruction when nobody would match his initial outlay.

The egg, which has a Vacheron Constantin watch inside it, was given by Alexander III to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, in Easter 1887.

But it became a financial burden to its new owner and one evening he despairingly tapped “egg” and “Vacheron Constantin” into Google. So began the process of establishing that it was a Third Imperial Faberge Easter Egg made for Russian royalty.

The internet search led the scrap dealer to an article which quoted Kieran McCarthy, director of Wartski, the London-based Royal Warrant-holding experts on Carl Faberge’s work. When the man then flew to London to show Mr McCarthy pictures of his purchase, the Faberge expert was speechless.

Mr McCarthy flew to the small Midwest town to confirm the egg was genuine, finding it sitting on a kitchen table beside some cupcakes. “It’s the most incredible discovery,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We have so many discoveries but none of them are as momentous as this.

“It has travelled from Imperial St Petersburg to the rust belt of America. It’s a story that deserves to be told because it could so easily have slipped away.

“For the Faberge community and the historical community, it is a wondrous event because the Easter egg is the ultimate target for every antique dealer and every enthusiast.

“It may never be seen again and it may disappear into the deepest, darkest vaults of a collector somewhere.” Wartski bought the egg for a private collector and it will be on display for four days in London from April 14.

The egg was last seen in public in March 1902 at an exhibition in St Petersburg, and the worldwide race to track it down has now been won by a humble scrap metal dealer.

Post published in: World News

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