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Russian Businessman Buys Faberge Egg Collection - 2004-02-05

A Russian businessman has purchased nine rare Czarist Russia-era Faberge eggs in New York.

Sotheby's auction house was scheduled to auction off the Imperial eggs, along with more than 100 other Faberge objects, later this year. But a Sotheby's spokesman says Victor Vekselberg bought the entire collection in a private sale. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The first Faberge egg was commissioned by Russia's Czar Alexander the Third in 1885 as an Easter gift for his wife. The miniature sculptures of gold, enamel and precious stones, designed on an Easter egg theme, are renowned for their extravagant workmanship and intricate design. Most of the eggs are no more than 15 centimeters tall, and contain even smaller artworks within them, such as royal portraits.

Only 50 Imperial Faberge eggs are believed to have been produced. Of those, 28 are in museums, nine are with Mr. Vekselberg, five more are in private hands and eight are missing.

The collection was originally acquired by American publisher Malcolm Forbes, who died in 1990. His family says it is time for other collectors to enjoy such treasures.