A new museum has opened in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg displaying a glittering collection of Fabergé eggs once owned by the Russian tsars.
The first egg was commissioned by Czar Alexander III for Easter Day 1885. He was so taken with it that he commissioned a unique bejewelled egg every Easter Day after that.
His son, Nicholas II, ensured the tradition lived on. A total of 50 eggs were delivered to the Romanov Imperial Family.
Many of them were sold abroad by the Bolsheviks to raise money after the October Revolution. Others were smuggled out by relatives of the last czar’s family.
They are now the property of Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who bought the collection from the estate of US publisher Malcolm Forbes in 2004, and vowed to bring them back to Russia.
“We’ve been working on completing this collection for 12 years. The acquisitions come from all over the world – from outside Russia and even from outside the former USSR. This is the interesting aspect of our collection: everything we bought has been returned to Russia and preserved for Russian culture, and we are really proud of that,” says the Fabergé Museum’s director, Vladimir Voronchenko.
The museum, located in the newly restored Shuvalov Palace, opened to the public in December. It also boasts a collection of more than 4,000 artworks including paintings, religious icons, chinaware, and gold and silver objects from the late 19th and early 20th century.