Lost treasure found on seized superyacht
The US government has found what it believes to be a Fabergé egg on seized superyacht Amadea (pictured). The $300m vessel, owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, has been a key target in the US law enforcement’s battle against President Putin’s allies since its seizure earlier this year.
Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, announced that a Fabergé egg was found on the vessel during the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday (July 20th). If genuine, it could be one of the few undiscovered treasures in the world and potentially worth tens of millions.
“Let’s get to the juicy stuff: the yachts,” Monaco said, according to the UK publication The Guardian. “We’ve been finding some really interesting things … we recovered a Fabergé – or alleged Fabergé egg – on one of these [yachts], so it just gets more and more interesting.”
Kerimov’s Amadea was seized after the vessel docked in Lautoka, Fiji, on April 13th. The 348ft (106m) Lurssen superyacht made waves in the media after a lengthy legal dispute prevented it from leaving a Fiji marina.
According to the Fijian Times, it cost the Fijian government $500,000 a week to keep the vessel docked while the case passed through the courts. The US government won the legal battle and sailed the yacht to San Diego under a US flag in June.
Fabergé eggs are ornate, jewelled pieces of art, dating from around 1855 to 1916, commissioned by the Royal House of Romanov. Around 69 Imperial Easter eggs are thought to have been made for the Russian imperial family, of which 57 are believed to survive today.
The decorative eggs have previously sold for millions and remain incredibly rare. They have also turned up in the most unlikely locations. In 2014, one showed up at a flea market in the US. It was estimated to be worth around $33m at the time.
This May, another Fabergé egg found itself at the heart of a dispute at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. Sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg had loaned the solid gold and enamel egg to an exhibition, which the museum may not be able to return for fears of violating sanctions.
Unlike Vekselberg, Kerimov is not a known owner of Fabergé eggs. But the Russia-based billionaire may be among the private owners who are not publicly listed.
“We’re working with our law enforcement counterparts around the world to conduct searches on these yachts to make sure we have the authority and can go to a court, seize them and then forfeit the proceeds,” said Monaco.