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Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs

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Sotheby's announces privat sale of The Forbes Collection of Faberge to russian industrialist

Mr. Victor Vekselberg plans to return the eggs to Russia

© Sotheby's - Services & Information - Press Releases,

translation on russian / перевод на русский

February 4, 2004 -- Sotheby's announced today that the Forbes Collection of Faberge, which had been scheduled to be sold at auction in New York on April 20th and 21st, has been sold privately to a prominent Russian industrialist, Mr. Victor Vekselberg, for an undisclosed amount. Prior to returning to Russia, highlights from the Collection, including the fabled nine Imperial Easter Eggs, will be on public exhibition at Sotheby's in New York, at a date to be announced shortly. Sotheby's negotiated this private transaction on behalf of the Forbes family.

"This is an unanticipated and exceptional outcome," said Bill Ruprecht, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. "We were very excited at the prospect of an extraordinary auction and magnificent pre-sale exhibition, but we knew that this remarkable offer and the return of the Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs to Russia had to be taken very seriously. The Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs as well as other objects from the Forbes Collection are among the most beautiful works of art ever created and we want to express our special thanks to Mr. Vekselberg for his agreement to have an exhibition of highlights from this historic collection at Sotheby's in New York, so that the public may have a final opportunity to view them prior to their return to Russia."

Mr. Vekselberg, who acquired the Collection, said: "The Faberge Egg Collection, purchased from the Forbes family by the foundation I have established, represents perhaps the most significant example of our cultural heritage outside Russia. The religious, spiritual and emotional content captured by these Faberge eggs touches upon the soul of the Russian people. Upon learning that the Forbes Collection was going to be auctioned, I knew immediately that this was a once in a lifetime chance to give back to my country one of its most revered treasures. I am honored to have this privilege and to make this important collection available to the Russian public."

The Forbes family commented on the private sale to Mr. Victor Vekselberg, stating: "Over eighty years ago, Faberge's dazzling Imperial Easter Eggs and other treasures were dispersed throughout the world. Our father spent decades passionately bringing many of them together again. Among his greatest pleasures was sharing this collection both at the Forbes Galleries and in exhibitions around the world. The family is delighted that the advent of a new era in Russia has made possible the return of these extraordinary objects. It is an astonishingly romantic ending to one of the great stories in art history."

Only 50 Imperial Easter Eggs are known to have been created by the House of Faberge, and the Collection acquired by Mr. Vekselberg includes nine Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs. They are the very first Imperial Egg, the Hen Egg, which was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III for his wife Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, and the last Easter egg he commissioned, the Renaissance Egg. It also includes the Rosebud Egg, which was the first egg the new Tsar, Nicholas II, commissioned for his wife Tsarina Alexandra. And, very importantly, the collection includes one of the most spectacular objects ever made by Faberge - the Coronation Egg, which Nicholas II commissioned to present to his Tsarina on Easter in 1897 to commemorate his coronation in Moscow. Also among the Imperial Easter Eggs in this collection is the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg, commissioned on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the coronation of Nicholas II. The four other magnificent Imperial Easter Eggs in this historic collection are The Lilies of the Valley Egg, the Cuckoo Egg, the Orange Tree Egg and the Order of St. George Egg.

  • Location of the Fifty Imperial Eggs
    • Moscow Kremlin Collection (10)
    • Mr. Victor Vekselberg's Foundation (9)
    • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (5)
    • Anonymous Private Collections (4)
    • The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (3)
    • New Orleans Museum of Art: Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Loan (3)
    • Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland (2)
    • The Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C. (2)
    • The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland (2)
    • Prince Rainier III of Monaco Collection (1)
    • The Cleveland Museum of Art (1)
    • Unaccounted for (8)

Victor Vekselberg

Victor Vekselberg was born in 1957 in the Western Ukraine. He graduated from the Moscow Transportation Engineering Institute in 1979. In 1993, he became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Renova, one of Russia's most progressive investment and business development companies.

In 1996, he engineered the first interregional merger in the Russian metals industry, Siberian-Urals Aluminum Company (SUAL), where he remains Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 1997, he was key in building a Russian-United States partnership that acquired the controlling rights to Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), which soon became the third largest Russian oil and gas company. Acting as Chairman of the Executive Board of TNK, he was instrumental in negotiating and establishing a 50-50 joint venture with British Petroleum in the largest private transaction in Russian history. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors and the Vice-President of the joint venture called TNK-BP.