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Victor Vekselberg recently purchased an Easter egg collection by the renowned Faberge jewelers
The Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg has put the sensational acquisition on display. One of the eggs is most certainly a fake, says the Moscow-based Russky Kuriyer daily. It refers to Valentin Skurlov. One of the world's foremost jewel connoisseurs, he was appointed in 1996, research and consulting expert for the Faberge company at the Russian branch of the Christie's auction house, based in London and New York City. Mr. Skurlov holds the honorable office to this day. Valentin Skurlov and Tatiana Faberge co-authored a press contribution, which recently came out in Geneva, to prove the point. Their retrospect tracks down the background of the disputable jewel. Known as Spring Blossoms, the egg made a sensational appearance in 1961, when Lansdale Christie, prominent American art collector, bought it at the posh New York City shop, In Old Russia. As Kenneth Snowman was preparing a second edition of his book, "Carl Faberge", a year later, he introduced the Spring Blossoms into research circulation. He never mentioned the egg in its first edition, of 1953. As Mr. Snowman assumed, the jewel had been in possession of Empress Maria Fyodorovna, mother of Nicholas II, Russia's last Emperor. When Mr. Christie died in 1966, Malcolm Forbes bought the egg as former Imperial family property. Malcolm Forbes died in 1990, having bequeathed his collection to his children. He was sure to his last day that the Spring Blossoms had been owned by Royalty. Hamburg, Germany, hosted a Faberge exposition in 1995. Its catalogue contained a reference to a list the Anichkov Palace commandant made in the fall of 1917 as he was dispatching Empress Maria's possessions from St. Petersburg to Moscow. One entry concerned "a gilded silver Easter egg, purse-shaped, red-enameled, with one sapphire". When the Spring Blossoms came up in 1961, it was described as "Easter egg of 14 carat gold", with no reference to a sapphire, points out the Geneva contribution. The Spring Blossoms bears an earlier stamp of Mikhail Perkhin of the kind the jeweler had been using before 1895. A number scratched on it allows to date the egg 1892. Indicatively, Carl Faberge gave inventory numbers only to items to be sold in his company shop. Easter eggs intended for the Imperial family had none. More than that, both halves of the egg are stamped on the inside with the number 56 to designate the gold standard, Russian analogue to 14 carats. All Easter eggs known to this day as owned by the Imperial family, and made in 1887-1895, have the standard stamp complete with the St. Petersburg anchor coat-of-arms. Last but not least, the Spring Blossoms appeared in the antiquarian market in 1961, out of the blue, with no previous mentions and references. This is another suspicious detail.
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