Flea market find turns out to be an original Faberge worth millions

BY Robert Pursell  March 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM EDT

According to the the London antiques dealer Wartski, the discovered Faberge egg is one of 50 in the world, crafted by Peter Carl Faberge in 1887. Photo by Wartski

According to the the London antiques dealer Wartski, the discovered Faberge egg is one of 50 in the world, crafted by Peter Carl Faberge in 1887. Photo by Wartski

Every yard sale aficionado who has dreamed of hitting it big by finding an original copy of the Declaration of Independence or an original Renoir, stashed amid boxes of old toasters and worn cutlery sets, now has another example to pin their hopes to after a scrap metal dealer bought an original Faberge egg — valued in the millions — for about $14,000 at a Midwestern flea market.

Kieran McCarthy, a London antiques dealer, said Wednesday that the buyer originally bought the egg thinking he could make a small profit reselling it for its gold content. However, after reading an online article about imperial Faberge Easter eggs made for 19th century Russian royalty, the scrap metal dealer, who wishes to remain anonymous, realized he might have stumbled onto something worth a small fortune.

The scrap metal dealer contacted McCarthy, who works for Wartski, a London firm that specializes in Russian artifacts. Upon seeing the egg, McCarthy immediately knew it was the real deal.

“The second I saw it, my spine was shivering,” McCarthy told the Associated Press, before calling the piece the “Holy Grail” for collectors. McCarthy subsequently set up a buyer for the egg, and while he won’t disclose the sale price or the identity of the buyer, experts have noted that a non-imperial Faberge egg sold at Christie’s for $18.5 million in 2007.

The egg is one of 50 in the world, crafted by Peter Carl Faberge as a gift for Alexander III’s wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, on Easter in 1887. Of the 50 originals, eight eggs were still missing, and only three of which were known to have made it through the Russian Revolution. The egg features a Vacheron Constantin watch and sits atop a jeweled gold stand.