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Russian tycoon buys Faberge eggs

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Sotheby's auction house said Wednesday it had sold the Faberge collection owned by the Forbes publishing family to a Russian industrialist.

The amount paid was not disclosed but Sotheby's had estimated the value of the collection at more than $90 million.

The collection was originally scheduled for public auction in New York on April 20- 21.

It was sold to Victor Vekselberg, vice president of TNK-BP (Tyumen Oil Co.), a joint venture with British Petroleum.

Vekselberg said in a statement he plans to "...make this collection available to the Russian Public," though no other details were disclosed.

According to Sotheby's press officer, Patricia Fox, Sotheby's negotiated the transaction on behalf of the Forbes family.

Highlights of the entire collection, including nine Imperial Eggs and 180 other Faberge objects collected by Forbes, will be on display in New York at a date to be announced shortly before their return to Russia.

Only 50 Imperial Eggs are known to have been created by the House of Faberge. The Forbes Faberge collection includes cigarette cases, photograph frames, and precious stone carvings.

Bill Ruprecht, president and CEO of Sotheby's Holdings, Inc., said, "We were very excited at the prospect of an extraordinary auction... but we knew that this remarkable offer and the return of the Faberge Imperial Eggs to Russia had to be taken seriously."

Vekselberg said the return of the eggs marks a milestone for the Russian people. "The Faberge Egg Collection...represents perhaps the most significant example of our cultural heritage... This was a once in a lifetime chance to give back to my country one of its most revered treasures," he said.

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