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An extremely rare Fabergé statuette recently discovered in an attic in Rhinebeck, NY sold for a record price of $5,980,000 on Saturday, October 26th at Stair Galleries in Hudson. The work, which was estimated to garner $500,000 to $800,000, sold to a phone bidder. The last hardstone figure to appear at auction sold for $1.8 million in 2005 at Sotheby’s, New York.

 The work, which was believed to have been lost, is one of 50 sculptures in semiprecious stones and gold produced by the Fabergé workshop. The statuette was acquired by a collector from the dealer and industrialist Armand Hammer in the 1930s and re-emerged this summer complete with original receipts when a descendant’s estate was emptied. The work depicts Nikolai N. Pustynnikov, bodyguard to Empress Alexandra, the wife of Nikolai II, Russia’s last Tsar.

 Wartski, the famed London-based jewelers, who serves the Queen of England, purchased the piece. They specialize in Russian pieces, most notably Fabergé. It’s not clear if they were purchasing it for stock or a private client.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452-1519) Virgin and Child with Saint Anne currently resides in the Louvre’s illustrious collection in Paris. Last year, the painting was the highlight of an exhibition at the French institution, which included compositional sketches, preparatory drawings, and landscape studies as well as related works by other artists. The work even made an appearance at the Louvre’s outpost in Lens, an industrial town in northern France. Considered his final masterpiece, da Vinci worked on Virgin and Child with Saint Anne for years, ultimately leaving the painting unfinished at the time of his death in 1519.

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles recently put a different version of the painting on view. The work, which appeared in the Louvre’s exhibition, was made in da Vinci’s workshop, but not by his hand. It will remain on view with the museum’s Italian Renaissance paintings indefinitely.

The painting was bequeathed to UCLA in 1939 by California real estate developer Willitts J. Hole. The work was transferred to the Hammer Museum in 1995 after the university took over management and operation of the institution. Sadly, Virgin Child with Saint Anne has spent decades in storage. In fact, it hasn’t been prominently displayed since the 1940s when it hung in the UCLA library. The reason the work has languished in storage for so long is that the Hammer Gallery requires that any work displayed in its historical art galleries be a part of founder Armand Hammer’s personal collection. Since Virgin and Child with Saint Anne was a gift, it doesn’t qualify.

The painting arrived at the Getty in 2010 prior to being shipped to Paris for the Louvre exhibition. Museum staff analyzed, cleaned, and repaired some varnish before shipping the painting to Europe. Now that Virgin and Child with Saint Anne is back at the Getty, museum officials are happy to have the work on public display.

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