Posted at: 10/30/2013 4:37 PM
Updated at: 10/30/2013 5:27 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
HUDSON - Inside a fairly non-descript wooden box carried by auctioneer Colin Stair was an art object designed and put together by famed Russian artisan Fabrege.
The hardstone figure was commissioned by Czar Nicholas II and given to his wife, the Empress Alexandra in 1912, just a few years before the revolution that led to the Romanoff family's demise.
It's a representation of a personal Cossack bodyguard to the Empress who apparently remained loyal, although not effective in his task.
There are "little sapphires in the eyes, little gold trim and gold braid and all these elaborately inlayed enameled double headed imperial eagles," said Stair.
A bill of sale shows the figure was acquired by industrialist Armand Hammer, who had an in with the Soviets.
He sold it in 1934 to a Mrs. Davis of Manhattan and Rhinebeck for 22-hundred and 50 dollars.
There are only about 50 of these figures ever known to have been made by Fabrege.
This one was never seen again by followers of these objects after the 1934 purchase.
Stair believes the figure passed to the next generation, George and Betty Davis, who failed to realize its potential value.
It was found wrapped in ordinary fashion with no special security in an attic when estate sale preparations began about six months ago.
The figure was authenticated and estimated for auction at 5 to 8-hundred thousand dollars.
Bidding took about 15 minutes last Saturday in Hudson before it sold for $5.2 million.
The buyer will also pay a 15% commission on the purchase, making the total cost just under $6 million.
The purchaser was London-based jeweler Wartski, who bid by phone. It is not known what Wartski intends to do with the purchase.