Expert: Fabergé Exhibit Has Fakes

Art dealer calls Russian museum's display shameful
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2021 4:06 PM CST
Hermitage Accused of Displaying Fabergé Fakes
A Russian copy of a Faberge.   (Getty/Alfribeiro)

Saying that it's displaying at least 20 fakes, an art dealer has called on Russia's Hermitage to close its Fabergé exhibit. "I want this show to be closed and forgotten, and that’s it," Andre Ruzhnikov wrote to the museum. "You cannot subject the Hermitage to such shame." The items displayed are on loan from a billionaire's collection, the Guardian reports. "Fabergé: Jeweller to the Imperial Court" is scheduled to run at the St. Petersburg museum through March 14. Ruzhnikov blames Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage. Piotrovsky and the items' owner, Alexander Ivanov, insist the items are genuine. Ivanov sent documents to artnet that he said prove the authenticity of four of them but do not appear to. Answering reporters, the director pointed out the preface in the exhibit's catalog, which says, "The authenticity of each fresh item that appears on the market can always be challenged and disputed … the consensus of the expert community is not easy to obtain and is often lacking."

The Wedding Anniversary Egg, supposedly given by Czar Nicholas II to Empress Alexandra on their 10th wedding anniversary in 1904, is one of the disputed items. Doubts about it were raised last year by a researcher. Portraits on it may have been taken after 1904, and the one of the czar appears to have been based on an outdated photo, experts said. Ivanov is a middleman who supplies collectors. "There's always a queue of people who want to buy things for me," he said in 2010. "If I’ve bought it, people know it's worth something." Peter Carl Fabergé was a St. Petersburg jeweler who served the Russian imperial court from 1885 to 1917. "There's always been a lot of Fauxbergé on the market," Ruzhnikov said, per artnet. "But the fight against it is picking up speed." Christie's, for example, withdrew a silver desk clock from sale after Ruzhnikov called it a "piece of garbage" on his website. (A Fabergé has been found at a flea market.)

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