Did Cleopatra's Red Notice Bejeweled Eggs Exist?

In the hit Netflix movie "Red Notice," starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, thieves and investigators alike are after three bejeweled eggs that Roman politician Mark Antony supposedly gave Cleopatra, his lover and the Macedonian ruler of Egypt, on their wedding day, according to Cinemaholic. Some are wondering if this story has any truth to it, in the wake of the film's apparent success (according to its producers, "Red Notice" had the biggest opening weekend of any film on Netflix in its history — though you should note that Netflix's numbers are self-reported and might not mean much [via Wired]).

In the movie, one egg sits in the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, another is with a private collector, and a third is missing, according to Polygon. But don't go booking a plane to Rome to take a look for yourself just yet — there aren't any eggs. Though Cleopatra did have a series of famous love affairs, first with Julius Caesar and then with Mark Antony, there isn't a lot known about her life, and very few artifacts that belonged to her remain.

The real Cleopatra

After the death of Caesar — the father of one of Cleopatra's sons — Cleopatra began wooing Mark Antony, one of the rulers of Rome in Caesar's stead (via Britannica). The pair fell in love, with Antony abandoning his wife to be with Cleopatra. The pair claimed that Cleopatra's son by Caesar was Caesar's rightful heir, and that Cleopatra's other children — including her twins by Mark Antony — should similarly rule their own nations. The scandal that Antony's devotion created spread through Rome and led to the war that led to the couple's defeat and joint suicide.

It's one of the most famous true tales in history, but though Cleopatra was a remarkable figure in this tumultuous period of history, much of what is known about her even today is via the distorting lens of Roman propaganda. The emperor Augustus, who ruled Rome after defeating Antony and Cleopatra, only preserved the aspects of their story that explained his rise to power, according to Britannica. That may explain why most stories of Cleopatra emphasize her affairs and decadence (as well as her shrewdness). If Mark Antony gave her a wedding gift, that may have been too romantic a detail to mention.

Notably, few artifacts belonging to Cleopatra, who lived until 30 AD, exist today. The star attraction from a recent exhibit devoted to the queen wasn't an egg — it was a piece of her handwriting, according to Reuters.

The fake eggs that tricked Hollywood

But if you thought Cleopatra's eggs were real, you're not alone. "Red Notice" producer Hiram Garcia said that the story of Cleopatra's eggs was convincing to many of the people who heard the film's original pitch by writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber.

"One of the funniest things about the pitch as we took it around town is he had come up with the whole setup that you hear at the top of the movie, and during the pitch he has an amazing setup where he does this fascinating little trip through history," Garcia said to The Wrap. "He's telling you about the time and Cleopatra to really set up the Macguffin of the movie. At the end of the pitch the same thing always came up which was, 'I had no idea about the whole Cleopatra thing,' and with great comedic timing he always said, 'Oh I just made all that up.' It has such a well-conceived backstory that you wish they were real, but no they were totally made up. It's a very fun idea he had come up with."