Christie's announce that they will offer at auction a remarkable discovery, The Rothschild Fabergé Egg. Previously unrecorded and an addition to no more than 12 documented examples known to have been made to Imperial standards for anyone other than the Russian Imperial Family, this exceptional work of craftsmanship is expected to realise £6 million to £9 million ($12 to $18 million) and potentially establish a new world record price for a Russian object. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg will be offered at the auction of Russian Works of Art on 28 November 2007, and will highlight Russian Art Week, a series of auctions dedicated to Russian Pictures, Works of Art, Books, Manuscripts and Icons which will take place in London from 26 to 29 November 2007.
Anthony Philips, International Director of Silver and Russian Works of Art at Christie's: "The discovery of this masterpiece is the most exciting of my 40 year career. Although few examples exist, The Fabergé Egg is known around the world as one of the most impressive and exclusive works of art ever made. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg, signed and dated by Karl Fabergé in 1902, encapsulates every characteristic that defines a true masterpiece; authorship, craftsmanship, provenance, condition and rarity, and we expect this remarkable object to be of profound interest to private collectors and institutions from around the world."
Alexis de Tiesenhausen, International Head of Russian Art at Christie's: "Over recent years, Russian works of art have flourished on the international platform which Christie's provides, and the interest and value in this category has increased considerably. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg presents superlative Russian craftsmanship to the international collecting community, and we expect to attract the interest of clients from around the world during its forthcoming tour of New York, Moscow, Paris and Geneva, and at the auction in November at Christie's in London. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg highlights a week of sales when we will offer a series of auctions dedicated to Russian works of art and we look forward to capturing the interest of the international collecting community during what promises to be a landmark week of sales in London."
The Rothschild Fabergé Egg has never been published and has only ever been recorded in private family records. The egg was a gift from Beatrice Ephrussi (1864-1934) (neé de Rothschild) to Germain Halphen (1884-1975) on the occasion of the latter's engagement to Beatrice's younger brother, Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949). They married in 1905 and it has remained in the family ever since. Beatrice's husband Maurice Ephrussi (1849-1916) was born in Odessa, Russia, and worked for the Rothschild family's oil interests in Baku. He went on to become a banker, helping to establish the Ephrussi Bank in Paris. It is possible that Maurice ordered the egg whilst in St. Petersburg, or during one of Fabergé's selling trips to Paris at the turn of the 20th century.
Every hour, the diamond-set cockerel pops up from inside the egg, flaps his wings four times and then nods his head three times while opening and shutting his beak and crowing. Each performance lasts approximately 15 seconds, before the clock strikes the hour on a bell. The egg is hallmarked under the enamel by Fabergé's leading workmaster, Michael Perchin, and is further signed and dated, K. Fabergé, 1902. This is one of only three known examples with both a clock and an automaton, the others being the Imperial Cockerel Egg of 1900 and the Chantic