‘Alleged’ Fabergé Egg Found Aboard a Seized Russian Oligarch’s Yacht
The rare egg may not be authentic—but if it is, it could be worth millions
When United States authorities seized a Russian oligarch’s $300 million superyacht, they were surprised to discover what looked like a rare Fabergé egg on board.
Lisa Monaco, the U.S. deputy attorney general, revealed the discovery while discussing sanctions against Russia at the Aspen Security Forum last week.
“Let’s get to the juicy stuff: the yachts,” she said, per the Guardian’s Samantha Lock. “We recovered a Fabergé—or alleged Fabergé egg—on one of these [yachts], so it just gets more and more interesting.”
The yacht had recently sailed from Fiji and was docked in San Diego, Monaco added. She didn’t extrapolate much beyond that, but reporters did their own digging and believe she’s referring to the Amadea, which arrived in California in June after some legal back and forth.
The U.S. government says that Suleiman Kerimov, an oligarch in the gold business who is facing sanctions for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, owns the lavish, 348-foot-long vessel. The U.S. and other Western nations are levying sanctions against Russian government officials and oligarchs in an attempt to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
It’s not clear yet if the Fabergé egg is authentic; but if it is, it could be worth millions. Created by jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé between 1885 and 1917 in Russia, Fabergé eggs are opulently decorated, jewel-encrusted objets d’art. Historians believe Alexander III commissioned the first elaborate egg as a gift for his wife in 1885—and the eggs quickly caught on with other members of the Russian royal family.
Historians believe Fabergé made up to 69 eggs, a number that includes 50 “Imperial eggs” made for Russian royalty. Today, just 43 of the Imperial eggs are accounted for. And even though the location of a handful remains unknown, the likelihood that the newly discovered egg is real is “pretty small,” as Tony Faber, author of Fabergé’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire, tells CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
“We’re down to the seven missing ones that have been basically missing since the [Russian] revolution,” he says.
The last time an Imperial egg randomly turned up was in 2014, when a man bought a gold egg for $14,000. He’d planned to melt it down for scrap metal, but first he decided to take it to an expert, who identified it as a Fabergé egg worth an estimated $33 million—and, fortunately, prevented its destruction.
In 2007, a Fabergé egg made headlines when it auctioned off for a record $18.5 million.
U.S. officials have not yet released a photo of the egg, which has only added to the growing intrigue around the object. And there’s a good chance that Fabergé fans will be disappointed when the government finally does offer up visuals or more information about their find. As Nick Nicholson, a Russian art specialist, tells the Art Newspaper’s Sophia Kishkovsky, the piece may actually just be “a pendant egg worth a few thousand or an egg-shaped object like a bonbonniere or box.”