The House of Fabergé was virtually unknown to the wider Russian public until the 1980s. In the early 1920s the Soviet authorities instructed the Gokhran, the Russian State Depository for precious metals and gems, to collect and melt down the entire late nineteenth- and twentieth-century silver, which had been seized following the 1917 October Revolution. With these, silver ingots and rubles were minted and industrial equipment was acquired from the West. All the palace services, including those of Fabergé, were sent to the furnaces of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg for this purpose. Simultaneously, all the jewelry of this suddenly detested period was broken up, the stones hand-carried and dispersed by trusted commissars in Paris, Amsterdam and London, and the mounts melted for scrap. Apparently very little of the proceeds benefited Russia but evaporated, as did the kilos of precious jewelry found on the bodies of the murdered Imperial family. Through their official channels, Torgsin and Antikvariat, the Soviets sold the large majority of Fabergés production. Thus the stock of the Fabergé Company,most of the contents of the Imperial Palaces and the collections formed by Russian nobility and moneyed society found their way into Western collections and museums. Only a few hundred of Fabergés creations survived in his country.
Ten Imperial Easter eggs, salvaged at some risk by the curators of the Kremlin Armory, remained in the Armory after the sales by the Soviets, but were relegated to a small wall cabinet in the recesses of the museum. It is only in the last decades that a major shift has occurred in the way that Russia views its most recent past. The reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II, previously stricken from history books, have emerged as meaningful, fascinating pages of this country;s great past. The tragic end of the Romanov family, their canonization by the Russian Orthodox Church,the rediscovery of their bones in Ekatarinenburg and their reburial in the Peter and Paul Fortress have enthralled the Russian public. Russia has also rediscovered the art of this period. Visitors to the upper halls of the Kremlin Armory are now first greeted by a large showcase dedicated to Fabergés works. Simultaneously, the Fabergé eggs have become the most frequently loaned objects of the Armory Museum to exhibitions, becoming favorite “ambassadors” of Russian culture abroad. Spoken Russian is encountered as often as English at auctions of Russian art in London and New York.At present, paintings by Aivasovsky ,Makovsky, Kustodiev and Repin attain prices in excess of $1 million. Fabergés exquisite works of art, closely associated with the Romanov family, are seen as the finest expression of the discrete elegance of this bygone era. Imperial eggs have begun a vertiginous ascent in value: Malcolm Forbes paid approximately $1 million each for the Coronation Coach and Lilies of the Valley egg. The same two eggs were expected to sell for up to $18 to 24 million and $15 to 18 million, respectively, at the planned Forbes auction in 2004.