Bay Tree (Fabergé egg)
|Bay Tree Fabergé egg|
|Customer||Tsar Nicholas II, as a gift for Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna|
|Individual or institution||The Link of Times Foundation, Russia|
|Year of acquisition||2004|
|Design and materials|
|Materials used||Gold, green and white enamel, nephrite, diamonds, rubies, amethysts, citrines, pearls and white onyx|
|Height||27.3 cm when closed, 30 cm when opened|
The Bay Tree egg (also known as the Orange Tree egg) is a jewelled nephrite and enameled Easter egg made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in 1911, for Nicholas II of Russia who presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, on 12 April 1911.
Its 1911 counterpart, presented to the Empress, is the Fifteenth Anniversary egg.
Turning a tiny lever disguised as a fruit, hidden among the leaves of the bay tree, activates the hinged circular top of the tree and a feathered songbird rises and flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings.
Based on an 18th-century French mechanical orange tree, it was incorrectly labeled as an orange tree for some time, but was confirmed as a bay tree after the original invoice from Fabergé was examined. Fabergé charged 12,800 rubles for the egg.
In 1934 Wartski sold it to Allan Gibson Hughes for £950, buying it back from his estate in 1939 after his death. The egg has a fitted case inscribed with the initials A. G. H. which is probably attributable to this period of ownership.
In 1947 it was sold by Sotheby's in London for £1,650 and then passed through several different owners, ending with Mrs. Mildred Kaplan. She sold it to Malcolm Forbes in 1965 for $35,000, equivalent to $212,634 at the time of the 2004 sale of the Forbes Collection to Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg purchased some nine Imperial eggs, as part of the collection, for almost $100 million