The opening scene of Red Notice, the Netflix’s caper starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, goes back in time to ancient Egypt and unspools a tale about three bejeweled golden eggs. According to the legend presented in a news clip, the treasures were a wedding gift from the Roman general Mark Antony to his true love the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
The narrator claims, “For centuries these eggs were thought to be nothing more than myth, rumor, but then in 1907 just outside of Cairo, a local farmer unearthed two of them. Some say the third egg was never found. Others claim it was discovered but just as quickly lost. Never to be seen again.” The narrator goes on to add the fact that one Egg is in the Castel Sant’Angelo museum in Rome. Another one of the Eggs is in a private collection. And no one knows the whereabouts of the third Egg.
This news story sets in motion an international hunt for the treasures by two rival art thieves (Reynolds and Gadot) and an FBI profiler (Johnson). But the audience is left with the question:
Are Cleopatra’s Eggs in Red Notice based on real artifacts?
The short answer is no. But the Egg designs are inspired by real treasures that sparkle with diamonds.
Cleopatra’s Eggs are a Hollywood version of the famous Fabergé bejeweled eggs made for Russia’s Romanov imperial family. While in the movie the narrator says the eggs were a symbol of Antony’s “undying devotion” to Cleopatra, in real life they were Easter gifts and much smaller in scale.
Fabergé began making the Imperial Easter Eggs in 1885 and stopped with the 1917 Russian Revolution. According to Fabergé there were 50 eggs made: “Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; 40 more were created during the rule of his dutiful son, Nicholas II, two each year, one for his mother, the dowager, the second for his wife.”
The artistry of the eggs is extraordinary. Each has unique details and designs. Diamonds often play the role of lyrical highlights set in bow motifs and trellis patterns. Diamonds were also used to frame miniature portraits on the Eggs.
Perhaps the most diamond intensive of all the Eggs is The Winter Egg made in 1913. It has 1,660 diamonds set in the quartz and orthoclase form. When the Egg is opened, there is a surprise on the interior as there were for most of the Eggs. It is a basket full of flowers made of gems and diamonds. The Winter Egg is among the 15 Eggs on display in London until May 8, 2022 at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution.
There are two Fabergé Eggs—the Rosebud Egg (1895) and the Imperial Caucus Egg (1893)—that may have directly inspired the color scheme of Cleopatra’s Eggs in Red Notice. Both are composed of diamonds, gold and red enamel.
If you are wondering why the Red Notice filmmakers didn’t just reference the glorious Fabergé Eggs, it may be because they wanted a set of three for the thieves to hunt for around the globe. Also, it could be because a Fabergé Egg has been used in a caper relatively recently. In Ocean’s 12 (2004) George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest of the crew stole a very realistic looking rendition of the diamond studded lime yellow enamel Coronation Egg.
Finally, if you are wondering about those other diamonds in Red Notice—namely the eye-catching necklace and bracelet worn by Gal Gadot during her lift of one of the Eggs—the jewels come from Tiffany & Co. The actress has been a long-time ambassador for the company and almost always wears Tiffany diamonds on the red carpet (And sometimes she has them on in the movies, too, sporting several Elsa Peretti jewels for Tiffany in Wonder Woman 1984 including the iconic Diamonds by the Yard®.
So, what happens next for the Red Notice crew who band together in the final scene of the movie in front of the Louvre? Perhaps they go for the diamonds in the French Crown Jewels on display there. We can hardly wait to find out.