Faberge jewelry exhibit opens at Moscow's Kremlin

The Faberge jewelry collection purchased earlier this year by Russian entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg is now on display at the Patriarch's Chambers of the Moscow Kremlin.

The exhibition, entitled "Faberge: Lost and Recovered," officially opened on Thursday. Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia attended the opening ceremony.

The collection on show consists of more than 190 pieces created by Karl Faberge, a famous jeweler with the Russian Imperial House. Its highlights include nine Easter eggs commissioned by Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II for their spouses, as well as several others that were made for foreign dignitaries, such as Duchess Marlboro's clock egg. Ornamental snuff boxes, cigarette cases, trays, dishes, and frames are also prominent on the collection.

The exhibit opens to the public on May 22, and will run through July 25, says Andrei Shtorkh, official spokesman for the Svyaz Vremyon foundation, which has organized the event. It will then be shown in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, and Irkutsk.

"Now we have an opportunity not just to show this wonderful collection, but to study it, too. Until now, we have seen many of the items only in images," Yelena Gagarina, Director General of the Moscow Kremlin's museums, said at a press conference. She pointed out the importance of the fact that the collection had been kept together.

Shtorkh reported that an expert council was now being formed out of art historians and museum workers to advise his foundation about where the Faberge collection should be exhibited.

The Svyaz Vremyon foundation is going to search the world for more Russian art treasures and to buy them back into Russia, if possible, Board Chair Vladimir Vorochenko announced. Two other projects, whose cultural and historical value is comparable to that of the Faberge collection, are in the works already, he added. "Our aim is to bring isolated pieces into a cohesive collection," Vorochenko said. "We don't want to collect objects on the basis of their value only; what we seek is to return to Russia those Russian artworks that were unjustly taken out of this country following the [Bolshevik] revolution." The foundation is now examining the possibility of building a museum of private collections, Vorochenko revealed.

Vekselbverg, the chief executive officer of Renova Co., whose personal wealth is put by the Forbes magazine at 5 billion dollars, bought the collection from the media tycoon Malcolm Forbes' family this past February. This is the world's largest Faberge jewelry collection in private ownership. The deal between the Russian entrepreneur and the Forbes reportedly topped 100 million dollars.

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