What is a Faberge egg

Happy Easter - Up to $ 40 million for an egg

22.03.2016
The most beautiful insurance thing in the world

The pieces of jewelry from Peter Carl Fabergé's workshop once delighted the wives of Russian tsars and made him the most famous jeweler of his time. A search for clues for Easter brings astonishing things to light. From Volker Kühn

The newspapers in New York speak of a coup on the art market, Moscow gazettes of an act of patriotic grandeur: on February 4, 2004, the oligarch Viktor Wechselberg bought a unique collection of art treasures from the US publishing family Forbes in order to bring them home to Russia . For 100 million dollars, 180 pieces of jewelry from the workshop of the goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé go into the possession of the Russian. These include some of the finest examples of jewelery making: nine Fabergé eggs, gifts from the last two tsars to their wives.

Every year on Good Friday, Fabergé delivers an egg to the tsar

Numerous myths surround these eggs, which made Fabergé the most famous jeweler of his time at the end of the 19th century. Every year on Good Friday the descendants of Huguenot immigrants delivered an egg to the tsar. Already the first that he had Alexander III in 1885. presented, proves Fabergé's artistry: almost seven centimeters tall, with its bowl made of white enamel, it resembles a hen's egg. If you open it with the help of a filigree mechanism, you will find a golden yolk measuring four centimeters inside. This can also be opened, and inside lies a four-color gold hen with eyes made of rubies. In turn, her body originally contained a tiny tsar's crown with two ruby ​​eggs hanging from it. But it has been lost, like so many things from Fabergé's workshop.

There are numerous myths surrounding these eggs:At the end of the 19th century they made Fabergé the most famous jeweler of its time. An egg is currently being sold privately for around $ 40 million.

Tsarina Maria Feodorovna was so enraptured by this Easter present that Fabergé made an egg for the imperial court every year after the death of Alexander III. in 1894 even two - one for the empress mother and one for Alexandra Feodorovna, the wife of the heir to the throne Nicholas II, who came from Germany. The eggs are becoming more and more splendid and refined. Some are 30 centimeters tall and contain precision mechanical toys such as the bay tree egg from 1911, which contains a singing bird. Others amaze with their attention to detail, such as the coronation egg from 1897. It contains a model of the imperial carriage made of gold, platinum and jewels; if you open its door, a tiny staircase unfolds.

Fabergé receives up to 8,000 gold rubles per egg. A huge sum - a cow cost around 60 gold rubles back then. Soon he had 500 employees in Saint Petersburg and established branches in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London. Aristocrats and industrialists scramble for his cigarette cases, watches, candy boxes and rings. But with the October Revolution of 1917 Fabergé's glamorous existence ended. He carried no more than a suitcase with him when he escaped from Russia. He dies three years later in Switzerland.

Insurers also evaluate the historical significance of the work of art

He made 50 eggs for the tsars - they were confiscated by the Bolsheviks and most of them sold off when the revolution ran into financial difficulties. A good 40 eggs can be seen in museums today. Others have disappeared or been lost in private collections. Repeatedly, alleged Fabergé eggs appear, which are exposed by experts as fakes. One of these experts is Géza von Habsburg, great-great-grandson of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I and his wife Sissi. The art connoisseur, who lives in New York, has accompanied numerous Fabergé exhibitions. The 75-year-old explains to GDV.DE that an egg is currently being offered for sale privately for around 40 million dollars. According to Habsburgs, the sum insured is similar.

Petra Eibel, head of the art department of the Austrian Uniqa insurance, confirms this assessment. "When determining the sums insured, prices that can be achieved at art auctions or on the international art market are assumed," says the expert. However, this price is not the only characteristic; insurers also evaluate the art-historical significance and the origin of the work of art, among other things. The market for art and exhibition insurance is special and manageable, but has grown steadily in the past. According to preliminary figures from the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV), premium income in 2015 was just under EUR 58 million.

Should a collector be found who pays the called 40 million dollars, the value of the eggs would have multiplied again since Wechselberg bought the Forbes collection in 2004. For the oligarch, the investment has definitely paid off. He has the eggs exhibited in his museum in Saint Petersburg and is celebrated by the press as a patriot and patron. The critical questions about the origin of his wealth in the opaque times of the collapse of the Soviet Union have since fallen silent.

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