© 2004 Bob Atchison
New York - February 14th. - Faberge FRENZY - by Nick Nicholson
At Sotheby's today, four thousand people lined up to see the nine Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs collected by Malcolm Forbes which are to return to Russia on Monday. Coming from all over the United States for the event, many people expressed their desire to see the eggs together one last time before they are repatriated.
People began lining up outside the auction house at 8:30 in the morning in anticipation of the viewing, which began at ten. Lines snaked through Sotheby's capacious lobby, out the front door, and around the corner of 72nd Street, stretching halfway down the block. A guard expressed his disbelief at the volume of people arriving to view the eggs. "We knew it would be bad, but this is like Onassis all over again." he said, shaking his head and referring to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis auction which until today held the Sotheby's record for most attendees in a single day.
Inside the 10th floor gallery at Sotheby's, the eggs were displayed in individual cases, each with its own guard. At the new owner's request, only the eggs were displayed, and not the 224 other pieces of Faberge which were acquired as part of the deal which is rumored to have cost 150 million dollars. The cases were further separated from the crowds by cordons, thus preventing viewers from getting closer than about 5 feet from the diminutive objects. Many commented that the eggs had been better displayed in the Forbes Magazine Galleries, where the eggs were behind glass panels set in the walls, and which allowed the viewer to come within inches of the objects.
A man complained loudly that the pieces were too far away to see. "Not as far away as they'll be on Monday," replied a guard, "because then, they'll be in Moscow."
According to a source at Sotheby's, it appears that the new owner, Victor Vekselberg, will place the entire collection on loan with the Kremlin Armory Museum, where the nine Forbes Imperial Eggs will join the ten already on display there. Now, for the first time since 1927, Russia has the largest number of Faberge Eggs in the world.