He just didn’t realise quite how much he would profit on his $13,300 (£8,000) purchase.
After failing to sell it on because would-be buyers thought it over-priced, the man decided to research the piece further – and discovered he was the owner of a $33 million (£20million) Faberge egg.
The expert who verified the extraordinary find likened the moment to ‘Indiana Jones finding the Lost Ark’.
The ornamental egg is the third of more than 50 Imperial Easter Eggs designed by Carl Faberge for the Russian Royal Family.
After the Russian Revolution all the eggs were seized by the Bolsheviks and most were sold to the West.
But eight of them are missing, of which only three are believed to have survived the revolution – including this one.
The egg contains a Vacheron Constantin watch which was given by Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter in 1887.
It was last seen at an exhibition in St Petersburg in March 1902 and last recorded in Moscow in 1922.
It had then found its way to a house in the U.S. Mid-West overlooking a Dunkin’ Donuts after a scrap metal buyer bought it at a market for £8,000.
He intended to sell it on, but prospective buyers thought he had overestimated the price.
Then one night in 2012, the owner typed ‘Egg’ and ‘Vacheron Constantin’, a named etched on the timepiece, into Google.
A newspaper article regarding the egg appeared quoting Kieran McCarthy, director of Faberge experts Wartski.
Mr McCarthy said: ‘He flew straight over to London and came to see us.
‘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.’
Mr McCarthy flew to the US to verify the discovery.
He said: ‘I examined it and said, “You have an Imperial Faberge Easter Egg”, and he practically fainted.’
‘I have been around the most marvellous discoveries in the art world, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite like this – finding extraordinary treasure in the middle of nowhere.’
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