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GOLDSMITH'S ART - Faberge' Eggs

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Author Topic: GOLDSMITH'S ART - Faberge' Eggs  (Read 8373 times)
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« Reply #30 on: May 24, 2008, 10:30:31 am »

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A few weeks ago, 10,000 New Yorkers queued for three hours in the cold to get a last look at the eggs, eliciting a comparison with scenes created by estate sales of Andy Warhol and Jackie Kennedy, and the Duchess of Windsor's jewels.

When the eggs were unveiled on Thursday, Andrea Fallek made her way quickly to the gold-enameled Coronation Egg. A New Yorker originally from Vienna, she recalled a friend in Florida, who had owned an imperial egg, but kept it locked away in the bank. Fallek suggested she might as well sell it to Malcolm Forbes, which the friend did. Sadly, Fallek had no idea which of the eggs it was. "I never saw it," she said.

Robert M. Lee, the founder of Hunting World, had flown in from Geneva. He is the current owner of a Faberge imperial egg known as the Love Trophy. He purchased it at auction a decade ago and keeps it locked in a bank in Reno. He found himself fending off dealers at the event. "It's not for sale," he said, "It's my only egg. I'm not selling it."

If Americans were on hand to say goodbye to the Forbes extravagance, many Russians were there to say hello. Faberge was spirited out of their country and sold off in the tumultuous years after the revolution. Now that one of their own had swooped in like Superman to keep the world's greatest private collection together and make it public, they could only marvel at such an unheard of "gesture."

"People have to spend money not just to help themselves, but to help their country." said Consul General Viacheslav Pavlovskiy, who clearly approved. No timetable was revealed for the departure of the eggs, which will require special crating. In any case, the party was not the last gasp of Faberge in America.


Gold, enamel, diamonds, rock crystal

 There is plenty to buy at the Fifth Avenue antique jeweler and Russian specialist A La Vieille Russie. Owner Peter Schaffer was at the party. Earlier in the day, he showed a visitor dozens of Faberge clocks, urns, tiny carved animals, peasant figures, picture frames, sprigs of flowers and fruit. Two pieces were part of 100 items acquired from the Forbes collection: a dazzlingly detailed miniature sedan chair in pink enamel and a miniature dressing table with perfectly rendered ormolu decoration and a top that lifted to display a mirror. Another 200 pieces were on display at the firm's booth at this week's European Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands.

Most Faberge collectors, including Forbes, Hillwood's Marjorie Merriweather Post, and even Imelda Marcos, shopped with Schaffer's father who pretty much created the market for Faberge. As Peter Schaffer explained, in the 1920s, Kremlin curators dismissed most of the baubles as too new and too common to save as cultural heritage. Carved Faberge animals were offered to foreign buyers at less than $2 each, Schaffer said. Today, they would cost $10,000 to $150,000.

Schaffer compliments Vekselberg for taking advantage of "an easily assembled political gesture." But he says it's nothing that American capitalists didn't do in their day. He included National Gallery of Art founder Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie in the group of savvy people who bought, and, significantly, gave back in the form of museums and libraries.

"It's exactly the same thing," he said.


The Washington Post, Saturday, March 13, 2004
« Last Edit: May 25, 2008, 09:56:56 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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