$33 Million Fabergé Egg Discovered in Flea Market

(Photo: Wartski)

The great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) made 50 ornately jeweled eggs for the nobility of Imperial Russia. A few of them have been lost to time. But one of those lost prizes has now been recovered. An expert located one next to cupcakes on a kitchen counter in a modest home next to a Dunkin' Donuts in the American Midwest.

Which isn't what you'd expect, right?

The discoverer, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought it for $13,302 at a flea market. He planned to have it melted down for its value in gold and jewels. But one night, he Googled the word "egg" and a name inscribed inside. He found online an image of an identical egg that was a Fabergé. He immediately flew to London to consult with Kieran McCarthy, a expert on Fabergé eggs. UPI describes what happened next:

"He saw the article and recognized his egg in the picture. He flew straight over to London -- the first time he had ever been to Europe -- and came to see us. He hadn't slept for days," McCarthy said. "He brought pictures of the egg and I knew instantaneously that was it. I was flabbergasted -- it was like being Indiana Jones and finding the Lost Ark."

McCarthy said he flew to the United States and verified the egg.

"I examined it and said, 'You have an Imperial Faberge Easter Egg.' And he practically fainted. He literally fell to the floor in astonishment," he said.

The egg, created by Carl Faberge for Tsar Alexander III in 1887, was purchased by Wartski on behalf of a Faberge collector.

McCarthy said the scrap dealer is "petrified" of his newfound wealth becoming public knowledge.

"He's from another world entirely. It's a world of diners and pick-up trucks, real blue-collar America, and he and his partner are still stunned by all this," he said. "When I saw them in January, they hadn't moved out but they were going to, although I think it was just to a bigger house around the corner. They've also bought a new car."

The American discoverer sold the egg for $33 million, so he can probably afford a nice new car.

-via Ace of Spades HQ

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Correction. $13, 302.

After 5 hours of haggling:
Buyer: How about $13, 200?
Seller: Please, you insult me. I have 6 kids to feed! $13, 205.
Buyer: But look, it doesn't even have it's original carrying case. $13, 301. Final offer.
Seller: No, I can't go that low. I had a guy here just this morning who offered me $13, 304 for it. Cash.
Buyer: Tell you what.. Throw in that Dukes of Hazard lunch box and I'll give you $13, 301.50.
Seller: You're robbing me, you know that? I paid $15 million for this egg; it's got to be worth twice that by now. $13, 303.50.
Buyer: $13,302?
Seller: (sigh) Deal!
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Yes, that does strike me as extremely odd. Flea markets are places where people sell their crafts and chipped dishes get a second chance at life. They are not places where items have a $13,000 price tag. I don't think he bought it at a flea market, and he's covering up the real source.
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The provenance of an item is vital to proving its authenticity. When items "turn up" in such unlikely circumstances, it's usually because they're trying to mask the provenance. Occam's razor usually works.
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