Christie’s cancels jewelry sale obscured by Nazi past

By Le Figaro with AFP

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More than 700 jewels are part of the Heidi Horten collection. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The auction house has given up on dispersing the collection of Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten, following the controversy linked to her husband’s relations with Nazi Germany.

Christie’s has decided to cancel the auction of the last lots of Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten’s jewelry collection following the controversy linked to her husband’s relations with Nazi Germany. In an email sent to AFP on Friday, Christie’s said it had “made the decision not to proceed with any further sales of ets from the estate of Heidi Horten“, confirming information from the New York Times.

More than 700 jewels are part of the Horten collection, most of the lots of which were sold in May, for a total amount of 202 million dollars. The last batches were to be sold in November.

Read alsoAuctions: Heidi Horten’s extraordinary jewelry collection, the sale of the century?

But, explains Christie’s, “the sale of Heidi Horten’s jewelry collection has been the subject of intense attention, and the reactions to it have touched us deeply, and many others, and we will continue to reflect on it“. Just before the sale in May, Christie’s had explained several times why it had chosen to agree to disperse this impressive set of jewels. To respond to its detractors, the prestigious auction house had argued that the proceeds of the sale would be entirely donated to philanthropic works.

Indecent sale

Furthermore, “Christie’s will make a significant contributionfrom the proceeds of the sale to Jewish institutions and Holocaust education, “of vital importance“, had ured Rahul Kadakia, auctioneer and international director for the jewelry of the auction house. But that hasn’t stopped criticism, including from the American Jewish Committee. The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) had deemed the sale indecent.

Read alsoThe Crif calls to suspend the auction of the jewels of an Austrian billionaire

According to New York Times, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, refused a donation from the auction house, and other organizations did the same, due to the origin of Heidi Horten’s husband’s fortune. He owned one of the largest department store chains in Germany. In 1936, three years after Adolf Hitler came to power, he took over the textile company Alsberg, whose Jewish owners had fled, before taking over several other stores that had belonged to Jews before the war. Helmut Horten was later accused of taking advantage of the “aryanization» Jewish property (spoliation measures aimed at transferring the ownership of businesses owned by persons of Jewish origin).

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