Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

The extremely rare jeweled eggs originally designed by Carl Fabergé as Easter gifts for the Russian royal family. One of the eggs becomes a key plot element in Octopussy.

The movie begins when 009 (Andy Bradford) steals a Fabergé egg from the circus in East Berlin run by Octopussy (Maud Adams). Agent 009 dies with a knife in his back, and the jeweled egg falls into the hands of the British ambassador. It is eventually sent to British Secret Service headquarters, where it is revealed as a fake.

The genuine article—the Coronation egg, which contains a tiny model of the Russian imperial coach—is up for auction at Sotheby’s. Suspiciously, it is the fourth egg to be auctioned in a single year. The seller is anonymous and has a numbered Swiss bank account.

Meeting with James Bond (Roger Moore), M (Robert Brown) and Defence Minister Freddie Gray (Geoffrey Keen) reason that the egg could be a part of a Soviet plot to raise currency for payoffs or covert operations abroad. What they don’t know is that renegade Soviet general Orlov (Steven Berkoff) is stealing a huge cache of Kremlin jewelry to purchase the services of ruthless Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), an exiled Afghan prince, his associate Octopussy (Maud Adams), and her circus performers.

This cover force is going to help engineer Orlov’s terrifying plan to detonate a nuclear device on the US Air Force’s Feldstadt Air Base in West Germany. The general knows that the Europeans would believe it was an American bomb triggered accidentally and demand that the United States unilaterally disarm. And without the American nuclear deterrent, Orlov can then carry out his plan to invade the West with Soviet forces.

The phony Fabergé egg stolen by 009 is part of a fake trove that Orlov’s jewel forgery expert, Lenkin (Peter Porteous), is substituting for the real jewels in the Kremlin Art Repository. But with the intended replacement stolen and the repository conducting a surprise audit of its collection, the conspirators’ only option is to buy back the original at any cost.

Meanwhile, M orders Bond to accompany Secret Service art expert Jim Fanning (Douglas Wilmer) to the auction, where the Coronation egg is identified in the program simply as “The Property of a Lady.” Their mission’s code name: Operation Trove.

At Sotheby’s, the auction begins, and Kamal Khan is quickly identified as a principal bidder. Fanning doesn’t like what Kamal Khan usually sells at auctions—what he refers to as “marginal quality from dubious sources.” But, as a buyer, it looks like Kamal Khan will acquire the egg—that is, until Bond, to Fanning’s astonishment, starts to bid against him. At one point, Bond asks the auction assistant if he can see the egg up close. Unbeknownst to anyone in the gallery, 007 then substitutes the phony egg stolen by 009 for the real item.

The bidding continues, reaching an unimaginable figure of 500,000 pounds, until Bond lets Kamal Khan win. Fanning, about to suffer a heart attack, can’t believe what he’s seen. “He had to buy it,” says Bond. Determined to find out why, Bond follows Kamal Khan to Udaipur, India, later using the real Fabergé egg he switched at the gallery as collateral in a high-stakes backgammon game with Kamal Khan, which 007 wins.

Like the golf match in Goldfinger, the Sotheby egg auction in Octopussy is one of those perfectly dramatized sequences that matches 007 against a villain without the typical gunplay and mayhem associated with secret agent derring-do. Sumptuously re-created by producer Albert R. Broccoli’s veteran production designer, Peter Lamont, the auction house sequence stands out in the Bond series as another breath of fresh air.


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