Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To Viktor, the Eggs

Not all oligarchs are trying to overthrow the government. Viktor Vekselberg, once ranked Russia's third richest man, is paying his debt to society by repatriating Russian art, including $90 million worth of Faberge eggs in 2004. I'll tell you when I've had enough!

The eggs were briefly displayed at the Kremlin Armory for all to remember the fruity indulgences of Imperial Russia. Vekselberg is reportedly leasing a palace in St. Petersburg to permanently house them. It's a poetic bookend to the 20th century, bringing home useless toys of the aristocracy now that Russia's rolling in it.

But, the billionaire is more than a patriotc philanthropist. Today, The Moscow Times reported that his Renova group has become the biggest shareholder in Pallinghurst, which owns the rights to the Faberge brand. Together with Russia's largest diamond producer Alrosa, they'll produce "the world's most exclusive luxury goods brand," which is no idle threat. What, diamond omlettes?

Above all, its a smart physical investment. If Vekselberg falls out with Putin's Russia, he can grab the eggs and hightail it to Acapulco for quevos nuevos russos.

Photos: Getty Images

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