Estate buyer and graduate gemologist Joseph DuMouchelle reveals the importance of experts in identifying hidden treasures from the world of fine art and antiques.
Reflecting on a priceless House of Faberge creation known as the Third Imperial Easter Egg resurfacing after close to a century almost without trace, estate buyer and graduate gemologist Joseph DuMouchelle explains more about the role of fine art and antiques experts in finding, identifying, and preserving such works, often worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
“It’s all about recognizing a hidden treasure,” suggests DuMouchelle, an estate buyer, graduate gemologist, appraiser, and auctioneer, “and, at Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewellers, we’re the experts that know.”
“Several years ago, for example,” he continues, “an individual hailing from the Midwest but who has subsequently remained anonymous discovered that their recent jumble sale find was, in fact, the Third Imperial Easter Egg, created by the House of Faberge for the Russian royal family in the 1800s.”
Estimated to be worth more than $30 million, the relatively diminutive 3.2-inch tall Faberge egg is supported by elaborate gold lion paw feet while a single diamond acts as its opening mechanism.
Dating back to 1887, the treasure had been considered lost since the 1920s until when, in 2011, evidence of the item resurfaced in a mid-1960s auction catalog, giving new hope to antiques experts of finding the missing Faberge piece. “Despite outward appearances, it ultimately takes an expert eye,” says DuMouchelle, “not necessarily to spot such a find in the first instance, but to identify its true value, and its authenticity.”
Indeed, in this instance, the Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewellers co-founder refers to the so-called Third Imperial Easter Egg as ‘the Holy Grail of art and antiques.’
“Confirmed by a renowned Faberge expert from London, England, to be the piece in question, the man’s jumble sale find did, truly, represent what I’d call the Holy Grail of art and antiques,” explains DuMouchelle. The buyer, it’s understood, had originally planned to melt down the tiny golden egg in an effort to turn a $500 profit, based purely on its gold content.
While he had overestimated the value of the egg’s materials, which, says DuMouchelle, were roughly equivalent to what he’d paid for it, he had not only massively underestimated but had almost entirely overlooked its value as a work of art. “So far removed from the world of art and antiques was the man that he had entirely failed to recognize the object’s true value,” he adds.
After an internet search, however, in an effort to sell the item for more than its largely disappointing value based solely on its gold content, he was left ‘hardly able to comprehend’ the true potential worth of the object which was now in his possession, according to DuMouchelle.
The Third Imperial Egg has since been purchased by a private collector.
“Truly recognizing and identifying a hidden treasure often relies on a thoroughly qualified eye,” DuMouchelle adds, wrapping up, “which is why it’s vitally important that those in possession of potentially valuable antiques or works of art approach an expert in the field, such as myself or one of the team here at Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewellers, for a professional appraisal and further insight.”