Sunday, 1 March 2020

Faberge attic find brings $5.2m

In 2013 the executor of a Rhinebeck, New York estate made a discovery in the attic of George and Betty Davis, finding a rare Fabergé figure that sold at auction for $5.2m. An unassuming wooden box held a hardstone portrait figure of Nikolai Nikolaievich Pustynnikov, who was a personal Cossack bodyguard to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

With sapphires for eyes, gold trim and gold braid and elaborately inlayed and enameled double-headed imperial eagles, the figure is finely detailed.

Tsar Nicholas II commissioned the famed artisans to produce the figure for his wife, Empress Alexandra in 1912, only a few years before the revolution that led to the fall of the Romanov family. 50 figures were known to have been made by Fabergé.

The rarity of such figures is close to that of the Imperial Easter Eggs though production of portrait figures of known historical persons is even more rare for the House of Fabergé. The bill of sale shows that the figure was acquired by Armand Hammer. Then in December 1934 the antique was sold at the Hammer Galleries in Manhattan to Mr. George Davis for $2250.

Russian Imperial family (between circa 1913 and 1914)
It remained in the Davis family until the Stair Galleries auction in Hudson, New York. The pre-sale auction estimate was $500k-$800k for the authenticated figure. Bidding began at $500k and when the gavel fell, London-based jeweler, Wartski, won the auction with a phone bid of $5.2 million.