The Story of Third Imperial Faberge Easter Egg

The Third Imperial Faberge egg is shrouded in elegance, beauty, and mystery. What once was a gift for the Russian empress soon became a priceless timepiece lost to history. Through investigation and luck, the whereabouts of the piece returned to public knowledge after almost 100 years. Since its creation, the Third Imperial egg has become a symbol of Russian royalty and mysterious jewelry trading. 

Origins of the Egg

The third of 54 imperial eggs owned by the Russian royal family was created for the Russian Emperor Alexander III. He gave the authentic Faberge egg to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, as an Easter gift in 1887. The egg demonstrates its role for royalty with its delicate craftsmanship and stunning jeweled details. At 8.2 centimeters tall, the ridged gold egg displays a diamond in the front. It sits in a gold tripod pedestal that has chased lion paw feet. Surrounding the egg and connecting to the pedestal’s three legs are colored gold garlands. Blue sapphires suspend from them. 

Third imperial easter egg

Posted by Faberge Land on Sunday, June 7, 2020

Although it presents an immaculate display on the outside, this Faberge egg is openable and reveals even more. Inside the egg rests a hinged watch made by Vacheron Constantin. When lifted, the watch can stand upright inside the egg for an even more spectacular display. The watch has a white enamel dial and gold set hands. Altogether, the egg, the pedestal, and the watch create the Third Imperial Faberge egg – an Easter gift for the Russian empress Maria Feodorovna. 

Who Created the Third Imperial Egg?

The House of Faberge- an esteemed jewelry firm- created the Third Imperial Egg. Starting as a family-owned business in the early 19th century, the goldsmith centered House turned into a world-renowned jeweler, well-known for their impressive gold eggs. Emperor Alexander III of Russia discovered Peter Carl Faberge’s work at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow in 1882. Impressed with the craftsmanship, Alexander became hooked on the House’s breathtaking designs. 

For the Easter of 1885, Alexander III commissioned a gold egg in honor of the holiday. Alexander III was so entranced by the egg that he announced the House of Faberge as “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown.”

The Emperor continued commissioning work from Faberge. For the Easter of 1887, Alexander III requested the Third Imperial Egg. The House of Faberge crafted the art piece between 1886 and 1887 in the St. Petersburg workshop of their chief-jeweler, August Holmström. They presented the egg to the Emperor in 1887, who gave the jeweled masterpiece to his wife as a gift. 

Impact on the Faberge Field

The Third Imperial egg is shrouded in the magnificent beauty and puzzling mystery. For almost 100 years the egg was missing from our history. This changed in 2014 when an anonymous scrap metal dealer in the United States sold the piece to a private seller for an undisclosed amount. Experts do not understand how the egg arrived in the United States from Russia, nor do they know how such a coveted and expensive piece sold at markets without much recognition. Between 1922 and 2014, people wondered about the whereabouts of this priceless masterpiece. 

In 2011, the estimated cost of the egg was about $30 million. Due to negotiations and the fact that no one knew the location of the egg for almost 100 years. It is likely that the Third Imperial egg sold for much more. As a result, many jewelers believe that it is the most expensive timepiece ever sold.  

Where You Can Find the Third Imperial Egg Today

A private buyer purchased the Third Imperial Faberge egg, possibly for more than $30 million. The sale was kept quite secret. The seller wished to stay unknown as did the buyer, and with the help of Wartski, a very well-respected jeweler and antique dealer, the egg sold for an undisclosed amount. Moreover, we may never know how much the Third Imperial is currently worth. However, the journey the egg took from Russia to its current owner is perhaps more mysterious. 

Third Imperial Easter egg presented by Wartski

Third Imperial’s Ownership History

In 1917, in the early days of the Russian Revolution. The Russian Royal his family was overthrown. Along with that, the Bolsheviks confiscated various Imperial treasures and transported them from the palace to the Moscow Kremlin Armory. The Third Imperial Faberge egg was one of these items. It stayed at the Amory for five years. In 1922, they transferred possession of the egg to Ivan Gavrilovich Chinariov, the special plenipotentiary of the Council of People’s Commissars. This is where the last records indicate possession before the piece went missing. Many people believe that the Soviets sold the egg as part of their “Treasures into Tractors” initiative. However, there is no exact way to know. 

Third Imperial Easter egg presented by Wartski

Between its Russian possession and its penultimate owner, no one knows where the Third Imperial egg went. Only the uninformed owners can look back and realize their unfortunate mistake of selling the egg for such low prices. In 2011, two Faberge experts identified the missing original Faberge egg in a 1964 auction catalog. It only sold for $2450. 

Third Imperial Easter egg presented by Wartski on CCTV

The Last Owner of the Egg

Before selling the real Faberge egg to a private buyer, the anonymous owner bought the egg for $13,302 at a flea market in the Midwest of the United States. He had trouble finding a buyer and intended on melting the piece down. Before making any final decisions, he googled more about his acquired piece. Finding that people all over the world were either looking for or questioning the whereabouts of the Third Imperial Faberge egg. Upon seeing the interest in his recent purchase, the owner contacted Wartski for an estimate. Eventually, a private buyer expressed their interest and purchased the Faberge egg through Wartski. 

Final Farewell

If you thought that you might catch a glimpse of the egg in a Faberge museum, that will not happen. Since the current owner of the Third Imperial egg is a private proprietor, there is no specific place where you can see the egg. In 2014, the owner displayed the egg for the first time since 1902 in a Wartski showroom. You may be able to see the Third Imperial Faberge egg on display in a private collection when the owner chooses to do so.

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