WWI had not been good to the Russian fortune, and the revolutionary mood of the people made it very impolitic for the royals to spend money on lavish things. This egg then, was created from Karelian birch panels set in a gold frame, and so makes it the only Imperial Easter Egg to be made out of organic material. The egg was sent to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch, who was then supposed to give it to the Dowager Empress, but he fled from his palace before it was delivered. The gift remained, abandoned, in the palace, before it was looted during the October Revolution later that year.
The surprise is long gone. But what was once hidden inside the seemingly simple egg, was a very expensive little treasure; a mechanical elephant decorated with eight large diamonds, 61 small diamonds, and a diamond-studded key engraved "MF" (Maria Feodorovna). Since it was also stolen during the Revolution, it is probably still out there somewhere. The problem is that the owner probably has no idea of what a treasure that pretty little elephant really is...
In 2001 the "Birch Egg" publicly reappeared when a private collector from the UK - a descendant of Russian emigrants - sold it to Alexander Ivanov, who owns a Fabergé Museum in Baden Baden. When Ivanov bought the egg he also got the case that contained it, the wind-up key for the surprise, Fabergé's original invoice to Nicholas II, and a letter from Fabergé to Alexander Kerensky, complaining about not being paid and asking that the egg be delivered.
On April 25, 1917, Fabergé had sent the Tsar the invoice for the egg. The difference in this invoice, from previous years, was that he had addressed it not to Nicholas II as "Tsar of all the Russias", but simply as "Mr. Romanov, Nikolai Aleksandrovich".