Карл Густавович Фаберже – Karl Gustavovich Faberzhe – the Russian goldsmith and jeweller born in St. Petersburg in 1846, gained worldwide fame with his luxuriously fashioned Easter Eggs crafted in precious metals and lavishly encrusted with twinkling gemstones. Czar Alexander III awarded The House of Fabergé the title „Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown“ in 1885, after getting acquainted and enthused about their exquisite contemporary craftsmanship on the occasion of a Moscow exhibition. He induced Fabergé’s works to be displayed at the renowned Hermitage and commissioned the first superbly finished Easter egg as a present for his wife, Empress Maria. Over time, frequent orders were placed by the Imperial Court and ample freedom was granted in terms of design, which proved to become more and more elaborate. Only one condition needed to be fulfilled by the talented jewellers: each one of the eggs must contain a surprise. Until this day, the bejewelled masterpieces exert their magic on whoever lays eyes or hands on them. The tradition of Czars ordering Easter eggs from Fabergé continued until 1918 when – during the October Revolution – The House of Fabergé was nationalised by the Bolsheviks and their stock confiscated.
The Fabergé Egg: much copied, yet unrivalled
The first privately owned Fabergé museum in Russia was opened in St. Petersburg in November, 2013 by the „Link of Times cultural and historical foundation“ established by Viktor Vekselberg, an influential Russian industrialist and entrepreneur, in 2004. The mission: to preserve, study, and promote Russia’s cultural heritage and to repatriate significant items back to Russia. In the same year, Vekselberg purchased a unique collection of Fabergé works owned by magnate Malcolm Forbes. In the course of the years, more than 4,000 items of decorative objects and fine art have been acquired. The most valuable exhibits being nine Imperial Easter Eggs – each of them a masterpiece – created for Russia’s last emperors, Alexander III and Nicholas II.
While hunting for unhoped-for treasures during a spree across a flea market, a US scrap dealer stroke it lucky by discovering a rare Fabergé egg by chance. Price of purchase: 10,000 euros. Market value: a sensational 24 million euros! London-based Fabergé expert Kieran McCarthy called it „The most unbelievable of all finds“. Fabergé had made the egg for Czar Alexander III. in 1887, who gave it to his wife, Maria Fjodorovna, as an Easter present.