Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Imperial Russian Antiques => Topic started by: Chris Snyder on January 30, 2004, 08:34:12 PM

Title: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Chris Snyder on January 30, 2004, 08:34:12 PM
I just read on the Alexander homepage that the Forbes collection of Faberge will be going up for auction in April.  Does anyone know why?
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: BobAtchison on January 30, 2004, 09:10:18 PM
Chris, maybe we can get Nick to come in here and tell us more.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: JD on January 31, 2004, 01:07:18 AM
Quote
I do not know for sure but  the Forbes Collection of the fabulous Easter Eggs is a part of the late Mr Forbes estate.

Possibly his sons do not have the interest in them that their father did or they need  some quick cash.

I saw many of them in San Diego years ago and I was very surprised by how small the golden  eggs were.  These Faberge eggs are actually the size of real eggs.  

One had a big dent in the side of it...I guess someone dropped it.  Imagine dropping a  Faberge egg that is worth 15 million dollars!

Also I was taken aback by how dusty they were, even though they were on display in a museum!


I just read Nicholson's article on the front page - was that the egg that its buyer through at his wife, by any chance? You'd have to be in the midst of a pretty heated conjugal fight to select a faberge egg as your weapon of choice.

I had NO idea they were actually only egg-sized, thanks for sharing that! They look, I don't know, milkjug sized in the pictures I see. I guess that's due to presentation and the fact that they're so finely crafted.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Chris Snyder on January 31, 2004, 03:19:59 PM
I just looked at the Sothebys Auction web page online (Sothebys.com) and was amazed at the pre-auction estimates.  The lowest priced egg was $2-3 million!  Total estimate for all of the eggs and another 180 items of Faberge from the collection is $90 million!  Just amazing. In a press release on the Forbes website (Forbes.com)  it quoted one of the family members (I don't recall who right now) as saying "the collection is being sold so that others can enjoy collecting the pieces as we have".  This same family member also said "this sale will help each of us to reazlize our own path in life, which is something that has always been done in our family".   It is really too bad, because now the eggs will be scattered to the winds and who knows if we will ever get to see them again.  
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: jda on February 01, 2004, 03:39:40 PM
After reading Nick Nicholson's article on the Imperial Eggs I wanted to make a comment .  In his paragraph on the last egg produced he stated that it was delivered to Grand Duke Vladimir at his palace .  This was in October of 1917 ignoring the fact that the Grand Duke died in 1909.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick Nicholson on February 02, 2004, 10:59:14 AM
First, I would like to thank everyone for their inteest in my article, and in the works of Karl Faberge.

First, I would like to address the comment by JDA which is absolutely correct.  My article should read that the egg was delivered to "The Grand Duke Vladimir's Palace", and not to the Grand Duke himself, who was indeed deceased in 1917.

Second, as Platon mentioned, it is true, the Forbes children have very different collecting interests.  Kip forbes collects  artworks and memorabilia pertaining to the court of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, while his brother Steve Forbes is an avid collector of Presidential papers.

Finally, to JD; the earliest eggs were, in fact, egg sized, but many of the eggs are much larger.  The range in size from about 4 inches to as much as 10 or 11 inches in overall height.  Of the Imperial Eggs, the most massive is certainly the Uspensky Cathedral Egg in the collection of the Kremlin, and the smallest is the First Imperial Egg in the Forbes collection.

The reasons for the sale are unclear though the means of the sale is not.  Malcolm Forbes always said that if the eggs were ever to be sold, he wanted them sold at auction.  The family is certainly complying with his wish.

There is speculation for the reasons.  It was reported in the NY TImes that Forbes magazine Advertising is down by 50% in the past two years, and many feel that Steve Forbes run for the presidency may have contributed to the fiscal strain which makes this deaccessioning advisable.

I certainly hope that all the best pieces go to public collections where they may be admired as easily as they were at the Forbes Collection in New York.

Best,   Nick Nicholson
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick Nicholson on February 03, 2004, 12:42:00 PM
The Winter Egg has been sold twice in the past ten years.

It was offered first for sale by a Private American Collector, and was bought by a private European Collector.

The same collector offered it in 1999, and it was sold (I have heard) to a different Private European Collector.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick Nicholson on February 03, 2004, 12:46:38 PM
Forgive me, the Winter Egg was sold for the first time in Geneva on November 16, 1994, and then again in New York on April 19, 2002.

Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Valmont on February 04, 2004, 12:01:26 PM
Does anyone has a list of the nine Imperial Easter  Eggs that were bought by  Victor Vekselberg from the Forbes collection?
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Forum Admin on February 04, 2004, 12:21:21 PM
Valmont,
Read Nick Nicholson's original article on the Alexander Palace Main Page.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: BobAtchison on February 04, 2004, 12:22:04 PM
Valmont:

I believe the list is in Nick's article.

Bob
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: BobAtchison on February 04, 2004, 12:29:12 PM
It would be wonderful for the eggs and the family's others from the Forbe's sale to return to the Alexander Palace and be shown where they were meant to be.  It probably wouldn't be a good idea to put them in the same cases where they were originally shown.  In the Maple Room the egg case was above a circular sofa in a corner and rather high up. Nicholas kept his collection of Faberge cases in his bathroom on a table near the door to his study.  Neither of these locations would make it easy to see them.  The Alexander Palace has a number of rooms that would work very well as exhibition space to show the eggs and other Faberge.  I hope it will happen - at least some day I hope the eggs will come back to the palace for a temporary exhibition.

An exhibit of the eggs there would probably also prompt a complete restoration of the family's rooms in the palace - which would be a great thing.

Bob
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Valmont on February 04, 2004, 02:21:58 PM
I somehow had the idea the resurection egg had been the first of the Imperial eggs, then, what's the story on this one, alone with the Spring flowers egg??
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick Nicholson on February 04, 2004, 03:29:22 PM
When an Imperial Easter Egg was ordered, a letter was sent by His Majesty's Cabinet to the Faberge firm, authorizing them to invent and execute a work at their own discretion, subject and price to be determined by them, though the cabinet always let Faberge know if there were an important occasion that was celebrated that year ( an anniversary, birth, or historic event...)  As a result, these eggs were never considered part of Faberge's inventory -- they were special commissions.

The Spring Flowers Egg has an inventory number, meaning that it was once part of the firm's stock-in-trade.  Therefore, the egg was created by Faberge, and then sold through the store in Saint Petersburg.  This Egg was presumably purchased either by a member of the Imperial Family, or another group for presentation to the Empress Mariya Feodorovna -- it is NOT, however an Imperial Egg, (meaning) it was not orderedby the Imperial Cabinet on the behalf of Nicholas II for his mother or his wife.

The Resurrection Egg has no inventory number, and there is no documentation which supports the theory that it was a commission for the Imperial Family.

Current scholarship maintains the egg is by Faberge, but there is no documentation to support that fact.  Personally, I think it is by another maker -- but that is just me.

Hope this answers your question Valmont!

Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Chris Snyder on February 04, 2004, 08:13:33 PM
I am so glad that the eggs will be returning to where they should have always been!  There they will be safe and loved for a very long time, and now the Russian people will  be able to appreciate them, as we in the U.S.  always have. It would have been terrible for them to be scattered again all over the world.  Now at least they will remain together and join the collection already in Russia, for an even more spectacular display. Although it makes me just a little sad that they will never be seen in the States again, it just gives me another good reason to visit Russia!!
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick Nicholson on February 09, 2004, 12:48:50 PM
NAAOTMA,

Though the Hermitage and the Kremlin Armory Museum have both offered to hote the "Vekselberg Foundation" collection, it appears that Mr. Vekselberg plans to erect a separate musem in Moscow to host his collection (I have heard this through friends in Russia...).

Word is that the initial exhibition will be in a special Hall et the Church of CHrist the Redeemer in Moscow (during Easter of this year).  The Eggs will be taken on a tour of Russia after that, and on their return to Moscow, will be loaned to the Armory museum, where the eggs will be exhibited with the 10 already there.

We'll see though -- anything could happen!

Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick_Nicholson on February 11, 2004, 05:09:04 PM
If anyone is in New York City this weekend, the last exhibition of the Faberge Eggs now belonging to Victor Vekselberg will be on view at Sotheby's every day from 10am until 5pm Thursday-Sunday.

Happy Valentine's Day!
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick_Nicholson on February 26, 2004, 09:06:44 AM
Dear All,

It appears that the Vekselberg collection will be placed on view at the Kremlin Armory museum.  That means there will be 19 eggs and over 400 pieces Faberge on view there.

Finally, for the first time sinc the revolution, the worlds largest collection of Faberge will bein Russia.

Best, Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Rodger on March 09, 2004, 12:45:12 AM
I note with interest that the Forbes sale of the ROMANOV eggs occurred, at their insistence by the way, the day following the publication of the 'Knight et al. paper in the Annals of Human Biology.   Given that Forbes is a news magazine, they would have had very fast access to the press release by the journal.

By the way, hasn't it ever occurred to anyone that the Romanoff family treasures were stolen from the Imperial family, and should have by all conscionable moral rights, had gone to their nearest relatives?

I know someone is going to whine 'oh it's state property' blah, blah, blah, but the fact is, the works are booty from robbery murder.

Shame on Lenin.  Shame on Armand Hammer.  And shame on the Forbes for not turning the artworks over to their rightful owners.  I never want to hear any Forbes, or any other person who possessed these family treasure ever speak about the rights of private property, because clearly, they haven't it would be pure hypocrisy for them to do so.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: _Rodger_ on March 15, 2004, 02:49:35 PM
I assume that since there have been no responses, everyone agrees with me.

Yeah, right.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick_Nicholson on March 15, 2004, 04:50:22 PM
Dear Rodger,

Just got your post, can't believe I missed it.

Though I agree with you on many levels, the one thing that no one can do is claim that the Faberge formerly in the Imperial collection was "state property."  Those objects were the personal property of the Imperial family, and never considered the property of the state, as were many of the jewels and the crown regalia.

Unfortunately, after the revolution, the pieces were nationalized, and were then "property of the state" though this is unfair, it is legal, and as the US and each country in Europe gradually recognized the legitimacy of the Soviet regime, the emigres lost their right to reclaim nationalized property.

There is a dreadful story (which I heard from a Romanov, so I think I can vouch for its authenticity), that when Grand Duchess Xenia was living at Frogmore, she was summoned by Queen Mary to a tea to show her the latest acquisitions by Faberge she had purchased.  Drawing a nephrite box with a diamond cypher from her vitrine, Mary asked if she might know what the letter meant, and to whom the piece might have belonged.

"It is my cypher," Xenia replied, "My husband gave that box to me on my name day.  It was in my library at St. Petersburg."

"How interesting," replied Queen Mary, putting the piece back in the vitrine, and firmly locking the door.

So you see that no one behaved well.  We can thank the Forbes family for creating such a massive and important collection, and for having the good sense to stop the sale, and allow the pieces to be acquired by someone who plans to share the pieces with the Russian people, and return the pieces to Russia.

Best,

Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: _Rodger_ on March 15, 2004, 05:12:56 PM
1)  I did not claim that the jewels, et cetera, are state property.  I've seen some people make this claim, and this formed the basis of the sale of Romanov artworks to people like Armand Hammer.

2)  You've mischaracterized my point.  My point is that the Romanov art objects belong to the Romanoff family by right.

3)  You mischaracterized the sale by Forbes to the Russian oligarch.  The fact is, the Forbes family pocketed some $100,000,000 cash from the sale.   They didn't advance the timetable of the sale out the kindness of their hearts.

Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Forum Admin on March 15, 2004, 05:31:32 PM
Nick,
I have heard that same story from other members of the Romanov family, but it was told a bit differently. Xenia obviously thought Mary was going to give her the box back. She said "OH my box! My husband gave me that box on my names day..it was in my library in St. Petersburg. Thats my box, how wonderful!"
Mary replied "How nice dear, but it is MY BOX NOW" and the tea was over.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 16, 2004, 03:07:50 AM
This is going to sound terribly "revolutionary", but , what the hell.
By all reasonable logic, the entire Romanov wealth was derived from the work of the Russian people.  They are the ones who bought & paid for the Faberge & all the rest.
The Romanovs did not recieve a  "salary", the country was theirs to dispense with as they wished.  Therefore, when the family itself was "dispensed with", the "people" reclaimed "their" rightful property,[ In that sense, they- the Romanovs- had no "personal" property] and sold what they needed to, for whatever reasons.
One could consider the same situation with the present Queen Elizabeth II, she is "caretaker" of the Royal Collection", if the people [whomever that might eventually be determined to be]  decided to sell the lot off, well,  so be it.
Much the same logic has been used in all revolutions.
As an aside here, the items, as inventoried, that the Imperial Family took with them into exile/imprisonment were rather practical, not really luxurious. Even the jewels were taken for survival, not posessiveness.
These are my views, anyway.


Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Forum Admin on March 16, 2004, 10:06:33 AM
Robert
Your point is not correct. There was a definite difference between  Imperial Russian "State" property and personal Romanov property. Certain things which were State property could not really be given away or sold or kept personally for that matter. Remember the considerable row Marie Feodrovna created when she refused to give the new Empress Alexandra "Imperial State" jewelry which rightfully belonged to the new Empress. Also, Nicholas made it quite clear that he paid for the new Livadia Palace out of his personal monies and not State funds. In fact, it is well documented that when the State property was deducted from the total Romanov wealth, the Yussupov (Sumarkov-Elston)'s were richer than the Romanovs! Nicholas was quite aware of what was personal and what was State. The Faberge in question was, as Nick said, personal property.

Also, trust me, QEII is WELL AWARE of what is personal property and what is state property and she can not touch 10p worth of state property without Parliament's ok. That said, she is still personally the largest landowner in Britain.

What the legal point here is simply this: The Soviet Government nationalised ALL personal property.  The only owner of any property in the USSR was the "people" controlled by the Soviet government. Individual Personal property rights ceased to exist. This action was legal, because there was no international law at the time. We may not like it, it may be unfair and unjust, it may be illegal by modern international law, BUT the critical part is that at the time, it was the law of the land in the USSR and no international law, treaty or agreement, superceded that. The sales of the Faberge pieces and other property in the 20's and 30's by Christies, Hammer, et al were legal sales AT THAT TIME. There was no violation of any laws because the Soviet Govt. was in point of fact the new legal owner of that property and any purchaser took possession legally and subject to the laws of the country of the sale.  

Juan Peron nationalised all assets belonging to non-Argentine parties, under Argentine law. If you read the case law this generated, it was pretty well settled that those nationalisations were legal.

The only "right" which any Romanov, Shuvalov, Bariatinski etc descendent might have for property nationalised by the Soviet Govt. is a moral/ethical one, which sadly was not recognized ever by any Court of competent jurisdiction.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 16, 2004, 01:20:29 PM
I was not trying to say that the Soviet view was correct. I was trying to explain their justification in nationalising private property.  That is: where did the Romanov wealth come from in the first place. The point was that nationalisation needed an excuse. All such revolutions, especially communist ones, have used that excuse.
Also, I know the British situation was a bad analogy.  Of course the Queen is well aware of the difference.
Also, I understand about the Yussopouvs being the wealthiest, actually, I think there were other families wealthier as well.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Nick_Nicholson on March 16, 2004, 01:34:26 PM
Robert,

You are right; the Stroganov-Scherbatovs were richer, as were the Demidovs.  Until the 1880's, the senior branch of the Orlovs and the Belosselsky-Belozerskys were richer as well.

These figures are based on Romanov weath MINUS state property, so while The Catherine and ALexander Palace would not be included as assets,  Pavlovsk would be.

If the prerevolutionary assets were returned, it is estimated that the Yusupovs and Stroganovs would each be worth as much as 5 BILLION dollars each, as the Baku Oil fields in Azerbaijan were essntially divided between the two familys.  The Stroganovs also owned virtually all of the semiprecious stone mines in Sibera.

Not too shabby.

Nick
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: _Rodger_ on March 16, 2004, 01:34:26 PM
The Forum Administrator's analysis is outstanding.

Moreover it should be understood that Nicholas championed private property rights as they related to the issue of government or individual ownership.   In fact, his insistence upon a separation of private property from collective or state ownership was the source of much contention between himself and the Imperial Duma.  

As far as the issue of 'people's' this and 'people's' that, there are at least 2 factors negating those arguments.

First)  There was no serfdom during Nicholas' reign.  Property such as mineral wealth was not siezed from individuals and given over to the state as a matter of course.  The Imperial Family purchased their jewelry with their own money, much the same as anyone today could go into a jewelry store and order a custom piece of work to suit.

Second)  Even during Nicholas' time, Russia was by law and in essence the private property of the Emperor.  Any right to private property on the part of others originated from and was to be conveyed by the monarch.  The state, and the government that adminitered it, were in theory, if not in practice, the Emperor's property and the mechanism by which whatever rights conveyed were protected.  The alienability of property was one of Nicholas' more important legacies, one that was of course canceled by the revolutionary governments.  The Emperor saw his duty as one of protecting and enforcing these property rights, much the same as any modern government does for it's own citizens.  

Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: _Rodger_ on March 16, 2004, 02:08:02 PM
I must say that I personally suspect Robert_Hall's 'objection' was more based on playing 'devil's advocate' than a sincere belief.  

It seems to me to be reasonable to ask such questions, and it's reasonable to explore why or why not they should carry any weight.  
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 16, 2004, 06:52:55 PM
No reason to suspect at all...of course the statements I made are indeed "devil's advocate".
As for my sincere, personal beliefs, well, they are expressed to sincere, personal friends.
This is a simple discussion forum.
It seems to me some people carve things in stone, then forget to blow off the dust.
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Cathy on April 20, 2004, 09:27:25 AM
Dear Joanna

I would love to build a miniature of the A. Palace!!  Would you like to help me?

LY
Cathy
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Robert_Hall on April 20, 2004, 01:28:13 PM
I might be of some help here.  Have been working on a Doll's House for some years,. Even have some tiny Fagerge miniatures along with portraits of the Romanovs. It is not a replica of any palace, but  there are plenty of  Imperial items in it.
If anyone is interested- it is a very costly hobby !!
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: nerdycool on April 20, 2004, 03:05:25 PM
I don't know if this counts as a model, but I play the computer game Sims, and I decided to build the Alexander Palace as accurately as possible with all the most famous rooms and funishings as close as possible. The lot size was waaaay too small to make all the rooms be a functioning size for my royal Sim (I made an Olga Nikolaievna), so the most important rooms are spread out on both floors of both wings... yeah, not too accurate there, but what can you do? Just thought I'd share :)
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: anna on April 20, 2004, 04:23:56 PM
Nerdycool,

Did you place this model of the Sims Alexander Palace on the web?Sometime ago I came across such a Sims A. Palace while browsing the web. It was beautiful to watch. Sorry but I don't know the link anymore.
Your description sounds very much the same as what I saw.

Anna
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: BobAtchison on April 20, 2004, 05:53:31 PM
The miniature Mauve Room at Forbes was beautiful but it was created from a picture of the Maple Room combined with a picture of the Mauve Room.  At that time pictures of the Maple Room had been mislabled as the Mauve Room so the artist tried to make a room based on one corner of the Maple Room with another corner of the Mauve Room.

I don't know where it has gone....  maybe Nick knows.

Bob
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: nerdycool on April 20, 2004, 06:24:36 PM
Anna, actually no, that one isn't mine, but that's where my idea came from. The house you are talking about would be too large and I'd have to reconfigure the lot size to make it fit. But I found the house in question to not be as historically accurate furnishing-wise as I wanted mine to be, so I've been going all around the web hunting for stuff. It's been pretty cool so far and Olga seems to like most everything, so that's good too. :)
Title: Re: Forbes collection of Faberge
Post by: Forum Admin on October 14, 2004, 11:15:44 AM
Elisa
This question should be started as its own new topic