Mar 23, 2014

Near Meltdown for $33M Fabergé Egg

What a difference a few minutes of research can make.

If you haven’t heard by now, collectors around the globe are talking about the discovery of the third Imperial Russian Fabergé egg, identified last week by Kieran McCarthy of London’s Wartski jewelers. The Fabergé community is extremely excited about the find, as the egg has been missing for more than 80 years.

I’m intrigued by the discovery as well, but for a different reason than most: I wonder why it took so long to identify it.

The egg sat on a kitchen shelf in a Midwestern U.S. home for more than 10 years. The egg’s owner was a scrap metal dealer who had purchased it at a flea market in 2002. He bought the egg in order to have it melted down for the value of the gold it contained. Dealing in scrap gold has become a popular pastime in post-recession America. Drive through any city and one can see signs nailed to telephone poles: “We buy scrap gold! Highest prices paid!” Even cable TV’s National Geographic channel has jumped on the bandwagon, with its series titled “Meltdown,” which was introduced last summer. The series tells tales of urban treasure hunters who “search for precious metals in unlikely places hoping to turn junk into gold.” According to National Geographic, revenues in the scrap gold business approach $1 billion annually.  Read More...

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