The Forbes Collection of Fabergé—including nine Imperial Easter Eggs—has been sold to Russian industrialist Victor Vekselberg, who said he intends to return the collection to Russia. Before the collection leaves, highlights will go on public exhibition at Sotheby’s in New York.
Terms of the sale, which were negotiated by Sotheby’s on behalf of the Forbes family, were not released.
Sotheby’s had planned to auction the collection on April 20 and 21. When the sale was announced in January, Sotheby’s said the most valuable item, the Coronation Egg, could sell for as much as $24 million, and the entire collection could fetch up to $90 million.
The Coronation Egg, one of the most spectacular objects ever made by Fabergé, was commissioned by Nicholas II to commemorate his coronation in Moscow and was presented to the Tsarina on Easter in 1897.
The other eight acquired by Vekselberg are the Hen Egg (the first Imperial Easter Egg, commissioned by Tsar Alexander III for his wife Tsarina Maria Feodorovna), the Rosebud Egg, the Renaissance Egg, the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg (commissioned on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the coronation of Nicholas II), the Lilies of the Valley Egg, the Cuckoo Egg, the Orange Tree Egg, and the Order of St. George Egg.
The collection “represents perhaps the most significant example of our cultural heritage outside Russia,” Vekselberg said in a statement released by the auction house. “The religious, spiritual, and emotional content captured by these Fabergé eggs touches upon the soul of the Russian people.”
Malcolm S. Forbes, the former publisher and editor of Forbes magazine, began collecting the items in the 1960s and continued until his death in 1990. The collection continued to be displayed in the Forbes Galleries and in shows worldwide.