Report: Egg Seized From Russian Yacht Was a 'Fauxbergé'

Experts agree find is unlikely to be lost imperial egg worth millions: 'WSJ'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2022 9:29 AM CST
Report: Egg Seized From Russian Yacht Was a 'Fauxbergé'
The super yacht Amadea sails into the San Diego Bay Monday, June 27, 2022, seen from Coronado, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Experts were understandably skeptical when the Justice Department announced in July that it had possibly found a Fabergé egg on a seized Russian yacht. Fifty-two jeweled Easter eggs were commissioned for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916, with 50 of those delivered before the monarchy was toppled in the Russian Revolution. Forty are held in institutions and three are privately owned. Another five haven't been seen since the revolution and are presumed to have been destroyed. That would leave only two missing imperial eggs. And as the Wall Street Journal reports, "the odds of one ... showing up on the yacht of someone not known to be an art collector were slim." After all, "perhaps no object in the art world is more rarefied than a Fabergé egg."

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco described what was seized from a yacht believed to be owned by billionaire Russian senator Suleiman Kerimov as "a Fabergé—or alleged Fabergé—egg." London-based Fabergé dealer Andre Ruzhnikov tells the Journal he laughed when he heard that, and it appears it was an appropriate reaction. Though the DOJ has made no comment on the find in the months since the announcement, the Journal reports the department sought out experts a short time later and learned it likely had a "Fauxbergé" as opposed to a missing imperial egg. "It's an honest mistake by the US government," Ruzhnikov says. "For heaven's sake, they are not experts in Fabergé, and they should've called me."

The two missing eggs thought to remain in existence are the Cherub with Chariot, featuring a baby angel pulling an egg on a carriage, created in 1888 and last traced to a 1934 Lord and Taylor catalog; and the Necessaire egg, thought to contain elements of a lady's toilette, created in 1889 and believed to have been sold in London in 1952. No such find, nor any egg at all, is mentioned in court documents related to the yacht seizure, per the Journal. Still, veteran federal prosecutor Andrew Adams appeared to be holding out hope that the find was genuine as of last month. "Maybe it's a real Fabergé egg, maybe it's not a real Fabergé egg," he told the BBC. "Time will tell." (Genuine Fabergé eggs have turned up in stranger places.)

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