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Faberge Eggs: 'Miraculous, Marvelous Works of Detail'

From | Many people are interested in the beautiful objects created by the jeweler Karl Faberge. Geza von Habsburg recently or organized a show of his work at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He says people are interested in the work of Faberge because of its link to the last tsar of Russia. Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918 during the Russian Revolution. GEZA VON HABSBURG: "One of the major reasons people bought and buy Faberge is the connection with the imperial family. He was very close to them and they commissioned things for their personal use." Geza von Habsburg gathered more than 500 objects for the exhibit. They included seven of the jeweler's most famous works, the Imperial Easter eggs. ALEX NYERGES: "Only 50 were ever created; 40 or 42 are known to exist. Seven are here all at the same time." Alex Nyerges is director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has five Imperial Easter eggs in its permanent collection. ALEX NYERGES: "The eggs are miraculous, marvelous works of detail. They are not just works of art in terms of beauty, but they are mechanically precise." Each Faberge egg has movable parts and a surprise inside. The most valuable ones are said to be worth 25 to 30 million dollars. They were made as Easter gifts beginning in 1885, for the wife of Alexander III. His son, Nicholas II, continued the tradition. The Imperial Easter Eggs represent only a part of Karl Faberge's production. During his career, his business produced over 150,000 unique objects. Not all were for the tsar's family. A crystal Egg was made for Emanuel Nobel, nephew of Alfred Nobel, the man for whom the Nobel Prize is named. Faberge was also a silversmith and created the Russian crown jewels. But Geza von Habsburg says very little of Faberge's jewelry and silver work remains. GEZA VON HABSBURG: "Of the jewelry, 95 percent was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. Of the silver, 95 percent was melted down by the Bolsheviks. They were in dire need of money after the revolution." What they did not destroy, they sold. ALEX NYERGES: "These works started coming out of Russia in the 1920s and the 1930s, and there was a great mania for collecting Faberge starting in the 1930s in this country. And there were a couple of key collectors." Lillian Pratt was one of them. When she died in 1947, she left more than 150 of her Faberge pieces to the Virginia Museum. Today it has the largest collection of Faberge outside of Russia. As for Faberge, he fled Russia during the revolution. He died in Switzerland two years later, but his works of art live on. I'm Bob Doughty.
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