Who is selling 'The Property of a Lady' Egg (and why) in Octopussy (1983)?

DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache.
edited July 24 in Bond Movies Posts: 12,084
OK, so I was rewatching Octopussy the other day and a question arose to which I can't find a logical answer so I thought I would ask it here. Strangely, it's never occurred to me before, but there it is.

It concerns the entertaining auction scene. I was wondering who puts the real Faberge Easter Egg, 'The Property Of a Lady', up for auction? The Service art expert Jim Fanning surmises that the vendor is a Russian and the Minister of Defence thinks it might be a Russian payoff for Soviet operations in Britain, like in the source short story.

We know the seller has to be a Russian, presumably either Lenkin or General Orlov himself. The problem is why does Orlov put the real egg up for public auction in London at Sothebys for Prince Kamal Khan to bid on and win when he could just give him the egg when he visits him at the Monsoon Palace in India? After all, the real jewellery from the Kremlin is Orlov's price for Khan allowing an atomic bomb to be snuggled onto the American airbase in Berlin under the guise of Octopussy's Circus.

Why instead go through with a potentially risky public auction raising awareness by MI6 of the sale of the real egg. Is it to make it all look legitimate as a bona fide sale rather than Orlov risking smuggling the egg out of the Kremlin Art Repository? But then Orlov is already smuggling the real jewellery out to Khan in India and replacing it with the fakes made by Khan.

It's the fact that it's put up for auction that I don't really get. Why go through this risky procedure knowing that MI6 already is aware of the existence of the fake egg and may be monitoring auctions as a result? I know it makes for a more dramatic story to have the auction of course and have Bond identify Khan as the buyer as in the original short story with Piotr Malinowski. But from a practical point of view it makes less sense to me as Orlov is smuggling the jewellery out anyway, so why sell the egg rather than include it with the jewellery he is smuggling out to Khan in India anyway? Unless I've missed sonething selling the egg (to appear like a legitimate transaction) risks making MI6 aware of the sale, as well as the Kremlin of course!

Another possibility is that Khan is selling the egg himself to recoup the money and is forced to buy it back when the fake egg is stolen, as we know he's a seller as opposed to a buyer.
Orlov's 'I hope we can reach him in time' perhaps confirms this?

I may have this all wrong of course and Orlov may just need Khan to buy the real egg back from selling it to replace the stolen fake one in the Kremlin Art Repository. Perhaps that makes more sense actually?

Another thought that comes to mind is that Orlov put the real egg up for sale before the fake one was stolen and now needs it back. Although, he could withdraw it from sale in this situation I suppose.

Damn, but Octopussy is a complex film! What a headwrecker!

Any help would be appreciated. I've heard that @Benny is an authority on OP so perhaps he or someone else can help me out with this question? :)

Comments

  • mattjoesmattjoes "Every job has its compensations."
    edited May 15 Posts: 2,016
    The answer is that Orlov hands Kamal the real egg, who then anonymously puts it up for auction to profit from it, but when the fake egg is stolen while being smuggled to Russia through the circus, Khan is forced to buy the real egg back, this time publicly, to send it back to Russia in time for the inventory.

    Edit: I remember being confused by this at one point, since Fanning does say he thinks the vendor is Russian, but we're left to think he is in fact wrong, and his speculation is probably based on the fact the egg comes, after all, from Russia.

    Edit 2: There's something that doesn't make sense here. On further thought, I think Kamal did sell the egg, and the vendor at Sotheby's may have in fact been Russian, so Kamal had to buy the egg back from him to send it to Russia. There, that makes sense. Because if the egg was Kamal's, why not withdraw it and cancel the sale instead of buying it from himself, even under a different identity?

    I learned something today as well! :D
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited May 15 Posts: 9,117
    There’s another thing that has just struck me which may make the whole plot of OP come crashing down.

    Grishka (or is it Mishka? I never can remember) says to Lenkin and Orlov ‘The thief was dealt with but the egg was lost in the river.’ Whereupon Orlov responds ‘I’ll tell our man in London we must have the real egg back.’

    What exactly has gone on here? To me it seems the gang are replacing jewellery from the art respository with fakes for their own profit. 009 has stolen one of the fakes thus risking exposing the scam right?

    But if 009 doesn’t steal the egg it’s just sitting there in the vault when the real thing (presumably nicked from the vault by Orlov and Kamal) is flogged in Sotheby’s. Do they think no one in the Kremlin is going to notice when an egg they have in their vaults is up for auction at Sotheby’s?

    They would monitor such things as I know for a fact the Russian government wants to try and get all the eggs back in Russia where it thinks they belong. So most likely they would outbid Kamal anyway.

    In any event I guess this might answer the question - to prevent being exposed to the Kremlin the smuggling must surely flog their ill gotten gains to private collectors as if they sell them through proper channels the Kremlin would be alerted. The only logical conclusion must be that a private collector who bought it off them has decided to sell but they shouldn’t care about 009 and the fake at that point. More worrying is the fact that it is listed for sale at Sotheby’s for all the world to see. The moment that happens the game is up and they should put as much distance between the egg and themselves as possible. And as we see the moment they are exposed via the sale there is a Kremlin inspection where the theft is discovered and presumably Lenkin is hauled off to the gulag.

    I like to think there’s a whole other film running alongside OP with the KGB going after the vendor and if Bond hadn’t dealt with the smuggling ring they would have.

    This is the danger when stealing such recognisable artworks. You have to find a buyer first who is going to keep it in his house and no one will ever know where it vanished to.
  • barryt007barryt007 Hunting Kara Milovy with a massive elephant gun.
    Posts: 15,337
    mattjoes wrote: »
    The answer is that Orlov hands Kamal the real egg, who then anonymously puts it up for auction to profit from it, but when the fake egg is stolen while being smuggled to Russia through the circus, Khan is forced to buy the real egg back, this time publicly, to send it back to Russia in time for the inventory.

    Edit: I remember being confused by this at one point, since Fanning does say he thinks the vendor is Russian, but we're left to think he is in fact wrong, and his speculation is probably based on the fact the egg comes, after all, from Russia.

    Edit 2: There's something that doesn't make sense here. On further thought, I think Kamal did sell the egg, and the vendor at Sotheby's may have in fact been Russian, so Kamal had to buy the egg back from him to send it to Russia. There, that makes sense. Because if the egg was Kamal's, why not withdraw it and cancel the sale instead of buying it from himself, even under a different identity?

    I learned something today as well! :D

    Hence Kamal's VERY pissed off face when Bond keeps upping the bid,costing Kamal presumably lots more money than he originally sold it for !!

  • Posts: 56
    I agree that replacing a real Faberge egg (that is being sold publicly at Sotheby's) with a fake back at the Kremlin repository doesn't solve anything. In fact it makes things worse because it exposes that there's obviously forgery/smuggling going on and that someone at the repository (Lenkin) is clearly involved. It's almost better for the Kremlin to find out that the egg is missing in their repository, hence why it's being sold at Sotheby's. This way it just appears as a simple theft.

    I have another question about the egg. The egg that Bond brings with him to India and uses as collateral when he plays backgammon with Kamal Khan (and which Magda later steals from Bond after their night tryst) - this is the real egg, correct? That's the egg that Bond switched at Sotheby's. So basically Kamal ended up with the fake egg and Bond has the real egg. So when Orlov later smashes the egg that Magda recovered from Bond (saying "this fake has caused us enough problems") he's smashing the real egg, correct? Apparently he and Kamal are unaware that this is the real egg because they didn't know about the switch at Sotheby's, correct? They thought that Bond was in possession of the fake egg which was lost with 009. I think Q placing the homing beacon inside this egg always made me think of it as a fake egg (a "gadget egg") but I think it's pretty clear that it's the real egg. I'm assuming you can open the egg and there's room to place a little gadget inside so it's not really far-fetched.
  • Posts: 3,133
    It is indeed the real egg. one has only to see Kamal Khan cringe when Orlov smashes it to be sure of that.
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