WASHINGTON — A rare Fabergé figurine has sold for a record $5.2 million at auction in New York after spending decades lost in an attic.
The statuette depicting Nikolai N. Pustynnikov, bodyguard to Empress Alexandra — wife of Russia's last Tsar, Nikolai II — fetched the princely sum after 15 minutes of "intense" bidding, the Hudson, New York-based Register Star reported.
The sum dwarfs not only the pre-sale estimate of $800,000, but also the $1.8 million for a Fabergé figurine set sold at a 2005 Sotheby's auction in New York.
The piece was purchased by Wartski, the London-based jewelers to the Queen of England, on Oct. 26. The jewelers will also have to pay a 15 percent commission on the purchase, bringing the grand total to just under $6 million, WNYT.com reported.
"The purchase of the figure is a continuation of our long-running tradition of acquiring Imperial Russian Works of Art," Wartski said in a statement. "We have over the years owned 20 of these rare hardstone figures, and a dozen of the legendary Imperial Fabergé Easter Eggs."
Russian royals collected figurines depicting their subjects, and the Fabergé workshop produced around 50 such statuettes showing different character types using gold and semi-precious stones.
The Pustynnikov figurine was brought to the United States by Armand Hammer, an industrialist with close ties to the Bolsheviks, and sold at auction in New York City in the 1930s to a Fabergé collector.
The statuette was thought lost, however, until its discovery this summer — complete with receipts — in the attic of a deceased descendant of the collector in Rhinebeck, New York.