Lost Faberge hardstone figure sets auction record at $5.9m

A previously lost Faberge piece that belonged to Empress Alexandra has set a new auction record for a hardstone figure by the renowned maker, after selling at Stair Galleries on October 26 in New York.

Faberge Guard figure Russian Imperial
The piece is set with sapphires, and decorated with nephrite, jasper, gold and enamel

The figure was discovered in a New York attic, having been known to collectors but believed to have been lost since 1934. It was estimated to bring between $500,000 and $800,000, but soared to $5.9m - a 647.5% increase.

According to the auction house, the last hardstone Faberge figure to have sold at auction made $1.8m at Sotheby's New York in 2005.

The figure was commissioned by Nicholas II and depicts NN Pustynnikov, the personal Cossack bodyguard of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. It is one of two figures commissioned by the emperor in 1912, with the second depicting the personal guard of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

It was last sold to a Mr George Davis in December 1934, and has been in the same family ever since.

The figure is studded with cabochon sapphire eyes with nephrite and jasper decoration. Gold and enamel also feature. 

It is one of less than 50 portrait figures created by Faberge, placing it on a level of rarity equal to that of the famed imperial Easter eggs.

Jeweller to Queen Elizabeth II, Wartski, bought the item, commenting:

"The purchase of the figure is a continuation of our long running tradition of acquiring imperial Russian works of art. Wartski were Armand Hammer's prime rivals in the 1920s and 1930s in buying the confiscated imperial treasures from the Soviet government. We have over the years owned 20 of these rare hardstone figures, as well as a dozen of the legendary imperial Faberge Easter eggs."

Christie's will hold its Important Russian Art sale on November 25 in London, starring Aristarkh Lentulov's Church in Alupka and a number of rare Faberge items from the collection of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester.

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