Vekselberg, more than likely the wealthiest man to come out of Russia this side of the 21th century, with a personal fortune valued at around $18 billion enjoys his wealth. Yet he does so in a low-key and an ostentatious fashion unlike some of his fellow oligarchs. With more than enough cash in the bank to buy a football club or even two, Vekselberg has chosen to become the world’s largest private collector of Faberge eggs instead- but he has his reasons.
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/ By Yoel Bermant /
In world history one of the fundamental events of the 20th century was the Russian Revolution, with the Czar and his family’s tremendously rich lifestyle while the country starved was enough to spark off the revolution which eventually cost them their lives. And no other trappings of flamboyant spending while the nation starved symbolized the flamboyant life of Czar Nicholas and his indifference to his nation’s suffering than the fabulous jeweled eggs that he had created by master jeweler Carl Faberge of St Petersburg.
In the years between 1885 till the Russian revolution in 1918 workshop Faberge created a total of 50 eggs, with one being presented every year to the Empress Maria Fedorovna on her birthday. This made for a total of 33 with a further estimated 17 to 20 eggs commissioned from Faberge being circulated around the family.
Today, almost a century later, of the estimated 50 eggs that were produced on behalf of the imperial family of Russia, 42 of them are known still to be in circulation.
And of that forty two, nine of these fabulous Faberge eggs are part of Viktor Vekselberg’s collection of Russian artistic artifacts. Vekselberg famously gathered up all nine eggs in one fell swoop, paying over $100 million to buy them from the famous New York-based Forbes publishing family’s legendary collection in 2004 before they could be sold off at auction.
After the fall of the house of Romanov, during the famine years of the thirties, especially when Stalin gained control of the Communist Party, many of the eggs were surreptitiously sold off to raise foreign currency, with just ten of them being retained in the Kremlin Armoury.
The remainder being distributed around the world, with nine of them falling into the hands of the Forbes family and eventually into those of Vekselberg.
Now almost 10 years later Victor Vekselberg is about to realize his dream – to return the main eggs in his collection eggs back to where they came from- Mother Russia.
Vekselberg has donated a considerable amount of money to create under the title of a cultural foundation, the Link of Times, to look after his collection of Russian cultural artifacts of which the Faberge eggs will be the centerpiece.
As Vekselberg often explains much of the art created during the period preceding the Russian Revolution specifically for collections of the upper-class, were despised by the proletariat as being their personal playthings.
However with that period now confined to history Vekselberg, and many of the new generation of Russians to become aware of them and the role they played as part of the country’s history and heritage. And the public should be allowed access to have access to them as part of a new Russian state that is now rediscovering her history.
And to make this happen Veksleberg’s Link of Times foundation is in the throes of launching a permanent travelling exhibition to display his considerable collection be displayed permanently, but on a rotating basis, The collection, including the Faberge eggs will be on show not only in the principal Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but also others situated more in the outlying parts of the still vast country, in cities such as Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk and Tyumen among others.
Photos: Wikipedia and Bloomberg