Monday, July 13, 2009

"E" is for Egg

Who would pay over $14.3 million dollars for an egg? Well, maybe if it was gold and diamond encrusted and had a little rooster that magically appeared every hour on the hour from the top of the egg? (Pictured left) Maybe it was the same guy, oligarch Victor Vekelsberg, that bought 9 eggs for an estimated $90-120 million dollars in 2004. These ain’t no Piggy Wiggly extra-large eggs folks!
These National Treasures are Faberge eggs, crafted by Peter Carl Faberge between 1885 and 1917. Though many replicas and cheaper imitations exist, Faberge only created 105 jeweled masterpieces, only of which 69 are known to have survived.
The first 24 eggs were commissioned by Czar Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia. The first egg was an anniversary/Easter gift from Alexander to his bride of 20 years, Maria. It looked simple from the outside, but inside the egg was a golden yolk and inside the yolk was ruby encrusted crown. It was a hit with Maria (duh) and every year a new egg was commissioned. His son, Nicholas, kept up the family tradition, giving an egg to his mother, Maria, after Alexander’s death (good son) and of course one to his wife (smart man).
Seven eggs were made for the Kelch family of Moscow and a few here and there for some privileged few. However, those eggs are not nearly as ornate as the “Imperial Eggs” for the Czars and their brides.
If you would like to see the eggs, the majority are housed in public museums. 30 of them remain in Russia. (Mr. Faberge was forced to flee the country during the Russian Revolution and later died in Switzerland after the executions of the Romanov family. The Romanov palaces were ransacked and Lenin ordered the treasures moved to Moscow. Later Stalin sold quite a few to “outsiders” to generate revenue)
If you would like to see a few of the eggs in the United States, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts house 5, New Orleans Museum of Art house 3, Hillwood Museum of Washington D.C. house 2, Walters Art Museum of Baltimore house 2, and the Cleveland Museum of Art has one too. The others are scattered amongst Europe, private collections, and 36 remain missing to this day. Now that would be an Easter Egg Hunt. Can’t you just see some guy showing up on the Antiques Road Show with that thing in toe? “Well, this egg belonged to my Great Aunt Ruth, my wife thinks it’s tacky so we keep it down in the basement and let the grandkids play catch with it…..”

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