Until the 1916 overthrow of tsar, Carl Faberge’s jewelery workshop made 50 Easter eggs for the royal family, each taking a year or more to craft.
But the third egg ever made was on the brink of being melted down for scrap; Tsar Alexander III’s 1887 Easter gift to his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.
The 3.2-inch egg is on an elaborate gold stand supported by lion paw feet with three sapphires suspend golden garlands around it, and a diamond acts an opening mechanism to reveal a watch inside.
In 2014, an anonymous Mid-western man, apparently underestimated what the tiny golden egg would be worth once it was melted down. He’d hoped to make $500 on it.
In a fit of desperation, he typed three letters “egg” into Google and the resukts brought up a 2011 article describing a “frantic search” for the item. He had also typed the name engraved on the clock the egg contained,
The article said it was estimated to be worth $33 million.
The man contacted Fabergé expert Kieran McCarthy and flew all the way 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.
He handed me a portfolio of photographs, and there was the egg, the Holy Grail of art and antiques. He didn’t look upon a work of art at all. He saw that it was pretty and it was nice, but he was buying on intrinsic value. He bought and sold.”
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”.
Eight, including the Third Imperial Egg, were thought to have been lost and two others are thought to have survived, but their locations still remain a mystery.
The golden egg was purchased by a private collector who allowed the public to view it for just three days at Wartski before it disappeared again.