If you were an Anastasia Romanov escapee stan as a kid, then you'll find the story behind the famous Imperial Easter eggs just as thrilling. The Fabergé Egg story is full of creativity, romance, intrigue, smuggling, and rediscovery. And the best part is, unlike Anastasia's myth, it's all real.
Top 4 Most Expensive Fabergé Eggs Ever Sold
Let's head back in time, before Stalin and the Soviet Empire, before the Bolsheviks took over in the October Revolution, to Imperial Russia. Aside from the famed lost Anastasia myth, there's just about one thing that people remember from this period - Fabergé's Easter Eggs.
Originally commissioned by Tsar Alexander III as an Easter present for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, his son, Tsar Nicholas II, continued the tradition during his reign. Known as Imperial Eggs, historians and collectors have tracked down 43 of the 50 that were made.
Unfortunately, so many of these eggs were sold in private auctions or sales that we can't accurately say exactly which were the most expensive Fabergé eggs ever sold. But, we can highlight the ones that sold for top dollar with sales that were publicly announced.
|Record Sales Price
|The Rothschild Clock Egg
|The Winter Egg
|The Pine Cone Egg
|The Love Trophies/Cradle With Garlands Egg
The Rothschild Clock Egg: $25.1 Million
Shockingly, the most expensive Fabergé egg ever sold at auction wasn't even an Imperial egg. Fabergé's workshop didn't only create Easter eggs for the Tsarina, but a few other related family members and Russian elite.
The Rothschild Clock egg, as it's called, is covered in pink chevron guilloche enamel, gold, and semi-precious jewels. From inside the egg, an automaton cockerel pops out, beats its wings, and moves its head. Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild commissioned the egg for her sister-in-to-be, Germaine Halphen, in 1902.
In exquisite condition, this Fabergé egg sold in a Christie's auction in 2007 for £8.9 million, which (accounting for inflation) amounts to about $25.1 million today. It now resides in Alexander Ivanov's - the director of the Russian National Museum's - collection.
The Winter Egg: $9.6 Million
The Winter Egg is the next most expensive sold Fabergé egg, and the first of the Imperial eggs to make this list. While other eggs might have outsold the Winter Egg in private auctions, they haven't made that information publicly available.
Tsar Nicholas II commissioned the Winter Egg for his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and presented it to her in 1913. According to the 1994 Christie's auction details, the egg was carved out of rock crystal and adorned with platinum and diamond rivulets to create the icy illusion. Inside the egg was a basket of white anemones, set with precious and semi-precious metals and stones.
In 2002, the egg sold in a private auction to an undocumented collector for $9,579,500 dollars. Accounting for inflation, that amounts to about $16.25 million dollars today.
The Pine Cone Egg: $7.73 Million
McDonalds and Imperial Russia couldn't be further apart… or so you'd think. The Pine Cone Egg is one of Fabergé's famed enamel eggs commissioned by Alexander Kelch for his wife Barbara Kelch-Bazanova in 1900. This non-Imperial egg features a pine-cone like pattern, fleshed out with royal blue enamel, silver, gold, and diamonds.
The treat inside the egg is a miniature elephant made out of silver, gold, ivory, diamonds, and enamel. The egg sold in a private auction in 1989 to - you probably didn't guess it -McDonalds's creator Ray Kroc's widow, Joan. Reportedly, it sold for $3.14 million at the time, which (adjusting for inflation) comes to $7,726,147.26 today.
One of Fabergé's most impressive innovations is how he perfected the en ronde bosse enameling technique, where you layer pigmented glass on irregular objects, most notably these beautiful eggs.
The Love Trophies Egg: $6.94 Million
In 1907, Tsar Nicholas II gifted the Love Trophies Egg (aka the Cradle with Garlands Egg) to his mother, Maria Feodorovna. This enameled egg lays horizontal on a display cradle decked out with rose garlands and gilding. You'll find rubies, pearls, diamonds, onyx, and silk galore on this fabulous egg. Unfortunately, the surprise white enamel easel and miniature portrait of the Imperial children that was inside is still lost.
Even without the prize inside, this Imperial egg sold for an impressive $3.19 million in 1992, which equals to $6,937,260.94 today (adjusted for inflation). Currently, Robert M. Lee holds the egg in his private collection.
The Infamous Viktor Vekselberg Fabergé Auction
In 2004, Sotheby's was set to facilitate the massive Forbes Fabergé egg collection sale. Before it could come to fruition, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg bought the lot for an estimated $100 million. The nine eggs he bought are estimated to be some of the most valuable out of the 50 Imperial eggs. These encompass a variety of styles and sizes and are currently on display at the Fabergé Museum in Russia.
The nine eggs he bought from the auction are:
- The Hen Egg: 1885
- The Renaissance Egg: 1894
- The Rosebud Egg: 1895
- The Coronation Egg: 1897
- The Lilies of the Valley Egg: 1898
- The Cockerel Egg: 1900
- The Bay-Tree Egg: 1911
- The Fifteenth Anniversary Egg: 1911
- The Order of Saint George Egg: 1916
The Third Imperial Egg: Thrift Store Trinket to Multi-Million Discovery
Part of the thrill of browsing through thrift stores and flea markets is seeing if you can discover a hidden treasure worth millions of dollars that's seriously underpriced. One anonymous Midwestern scrap metal dealer got a lucky break when he bought a glittering gold egg for a little over $13,000 at a flea market, hoping to make his money back after melting it down. Unfortunately, the melted gold wasn't going to come anywhere close to how much he shelled out.
But through some desperate nights and a little bit of Googling, he stumbled across something that every thrifter dreams about. This little gold egg was a famous lost Imperial Fabergé egg. After being examined by experts, it was confirmed to be the egg that had been lost since 1922. In 2014, a private collector bought the egg for a unknown amount, but experts estimate the lost egg is worth somewhere in the $33 million ballpark.
Anastasia's Escape Is a Myth, but Fabergé Eggs Are Real
So much of Eastern European heritage has been wiped out by western overtures, war, revolutions, and oppressive regimes. But, the pieces we do have from periods like late Imperial Russia let us peak into a long-gone era. And while we don't quite have Fabergé egg money lying around to own a piece ourselves, we can drool over pictures of them all day long.