Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Scrap metal turns out to be $33 million Faberge golden egg

A $14,000 find turned into millions for a man who'd been thwarted in his attempts to turn a quick profit by selling the tiny ornament to scrap metal dealers.

The man had been left financially stretched after he apparently overestimated what the tiny golden egg would be worth once melted down. He'd been hoping to make $500.

In a fit of desperation he typed "egg" and the name engraved on the clock it contained -- "Vacheron Constantin" -- into Google. His search brought up a 2011 article describing a "frantic search" for the object: the Third Imperial Easter Egg, made by Faberge for the Russian royal family in 1887 and estimated to be worth 20 million pounds ($33 million).
The man contacted Faberge expert Kieran McCarthy and flew to London to visit McCarthy's workplace: Wartski jewelers in Mayfair.

McCarthy said he had no warning about the visit. "A gentleman had walked in wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and trainers. His mouth was just dry with fear," McCarthy said, to the extent that he could barely speak. "He handed me a portfolio of photographs, and there was the egg, the Holy Grail of art and antiques."
The egg was thought to have been lost after the Soviets listed it for sale in 1922 as part of a policy of turning "treasures into tractors," but in 2011, Faberge researchers recognized it in a 1964 auction catalog, reviving hopes it had survived and prompting the Telegraph article.

After the revolution, 42 of the imperial eggs made their way into private collections and museums. Eight, including the Third Imperial Egg, were thought to have been lost. Two others are thought to have survived, though their locations remain a mystery.