In February 2004, the Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg purchased a collection of items made by the House of Fabergé. It had been in the possession of the family of Malcolm Forbes, the famous American media magnate. The collection contained over 200 objects, including nine unique Easter eggs created by Carl Fabergé for the last two Russian emperors. Malcolm Forbes had spent 25 years amassing Fabergé works until his death in 1990, and his heirs eventually decided to part with with his collection. A special Sotheby's auction was held in April 2004, during which the Forbes collection was split into lots and sold off to different buyers. Viktor Vekselberg's subsequent purchase of the entire collection from its various owners was unprecedented in the art market, as never before had a collection of such value been purchased by one person. In so doing, Mr. Vekselberg not only restored the collection's integrity, but brought those items back to their Russian homeland to make them available for all its residents. Thus was created the first museum in the country dedicated to the great Russian jeweler Carl Fabergé.
The work of repatriating the Forbes collection and, later, other once-lost items of cultural significance, was facilitated through the Link of Times Foundation, established for that purpose. The Foundation was assigned with putting together the collection of the future Fabergé Museum, organizing temporary exhibitions to increase its popularity and searching for and preparing the building that would house its permanent collection.
Over a ten-year period, the Link of Times Foundation tracked the appearance of Russian masterpieces of jewelry art all over the world – in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Throughout that time, it was actively engaged in working with auction houses, experts and leading magazines, and purchased works by the House of Fabergé and other famous Russian jewelers from the 19th and early 20th centuries for the future museum.
Thanks to its efforts, the Foundation was able to put together an unrivaled collection of Russian jewelry art centered around the world's largest collection of objects by the House of Fabergé, with over 1000 individual items. The collection is noteworthy not only for the superb quality of the items it contains, but for its great diversity as well; the collection is representative of the many different things produced by the House of Fabergé, including fantasy-themed objects, jewelry, accessories, silverware, and home decor. Of course, the most valuable category of items is that of Fabergé's unique Easter eggs, nine of which were commissioned by the Russian emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II. Due to their cultural and historical importance as gifts made for the empresses Maria Feodorovna and Alexandra Feodorvna, they deserve special mention. Nevertheless, the Museum's collection contains a great many other valuable objects tied to the history of the Romanov Dynasty; both household items and official gifts that were bestowed upon distinguished individuals by the Russian emperor.
The imperial gifts contained in the Museum's collection were not all made by the House of Fabergé – the Museum also has in its possession an outstanding collection of golden gift boxes crafted by other famous artisans in the 18th and 19th centuries, decorated with miniature portraits of the Romanovs going all the way back to Peter the Great.
Still another important part of the Museum's collection is its Russian enamel works made by the leading Russian jewelry firms of the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries: P. Ovchinnikov, I. Khlebnikov, A. Kuzmichev, the Grachev Brothers and many others. Separate mention is owed to the more than 100 items made by Feodor Rückert, the accomplished Moscow master of enamel who worked with the House of Fabergé.
The Museum would be unable to fully present Russian jewelry art from the age of Fabergé without Russian icons, as their metal covers were made by the best jewelers of the time, and the Museum boasts a fantastic collection of these.
The Fabergé Museum officially opened its doors on 19 November 2013 in St. Petersburg's Shuvalov Palace, becoming the first private museum in Russia of national and international significance.