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America’s largest public collection of Fabergé arrives at the Peabody Essex Museum

Photos by Katherine Wetzel

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SALEM — The basis of the “Fabergé Revealed” show at the Peabody Essex Museum is not a collection borrowed from Russia, but from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And the owner of these treasures? A Virginia housewife named Lillian Pratt, who couldn’t get enough of Peter Carl Fabergé’s use of precious metals and jewels in thousands of adornments, including the world-renowned Fabergé eggs.

“She looked like a little old housewife,” Fabergé scholar Archduke Géza von Habsburg said over wine last week at the Peabody Essex’s outdoor restaurant. “She was smitten with Fabergé and she had the means to buy. Her husband was a General Motors executive. The story goes that her husband knew nothing of the things that she was buying, but that’s just legend.”

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