LONDON, March 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. scrap metal dealer intending to melt down an ornament for its gold was shocked to discover it was a $33 million Faberge egg, a British expert said.
Kieran McCarthy of London jeweler Wartski said the scrap metal dealer, who wished to remain anonymous, bought the gold egg for $13,302 from an antiques dealer about a decade ago and had planned to melt it down and sell the metal, but the project was put on hold when he was unable to find a buyer, the Telegraph reported Wednesday.
McCarthy said the egg stayed in the man's home until a night in 2012 when he decided to Google "egg" and "Vacheron Constantin," the name etched on the timepiece inside the egg.
The man discovered a Telegraph article from earlier that year that included an interview with McCarthy and a picture of the egg in his possession.
"He saw the article and recognized his egg in the picture. He flew straight over to London -- the first time he had ever been to Europe -- and came to see us. He hadn't slept for days," McCarthy said. "He brought pictures of the egg and I knew instantaneously that was it. I was flabbergasted -- it was like being Indiana Jones and finding the Lost Ark."
McCarthy said he flew to the United States and verified the egg.
"I examined it and said, 'You have an Imperial Faberge Easter Egg.' And he practically fainted. He literally fell to the floor in astonishment," he said.
The egg, created by Carl Faberge for Tsar Alexander III in 1887, was purchased by Wartski on behalf of a Faberge collector.
McCarthy said the scrap dealer is "petrified" of his newfound wealth becoming public knowledge.
"He's from another world entirely. It's a world of diners and pick-up trucks, real blue-collar America, and he and his partner are still stunned by all this," he said. "When I saw them in January, they hadn't moved out but they were going to, although I think it was just to a bigger house around the corner. They've also bought a new car."