Christie’s won’t do second round of Nazi-linked jewelry sale

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Sign on the facade of the Geneva, Switzerland, branch of Christie's international auction house (godongphoto/shutterstock)

The initial auction of the late Heidi Horten’s collection drew fire since the source of her husband’s fortune was profits made from the forced sale of Jewish businesses during the Nazi era.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Christie’s auction house announced Friday that it would not hold a second round of a Nazi-linked jewelry sale, following the fire it drew from the first round in May.

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Due to the “intense scrutiny” it had received, the house said in a statement, “Christie’s has taken the decision not to proceed with further sales of property from the Estate of Heidi Horten.”

Horten was the wife of billionaire German businessman Helmut Horten, whose fortune was based on Jewish businesses he had bought for a fraction of their worth starting in 1933, when the Nazis passed a law stating that Jews could not own companies in countries where they were in charge.

Christie’s netted a record-breaking $202 million for a jewelry sale during the controversial first auction, which featured some 400 items out of 700 in Horten’s collection

However, the reaction to the sale, said Anthea Peers, president of Christie’s EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) division, “has deeply affected us and many others, and we will continue to reflect on it.”

Christie’s went ahead with the original auction despite the protest of several Jewish groups that were offended that the source of Horten’s wealth was profit made from Jewish suffering. CEO Guillaume Cerutti, who admitted that the company knew how Horten had made his money, tried to make amends by saying that all proceeds would go to charity, though none mentioned were specifically Jewish ones.

Christie’s international head of jewelry, Rahul Kadakia, told AFP that the auction house would be separately “making a significant donation towards Holocaust research and education.”

Yad Vashem, however, rejected an offered donation from the auction house, as did other Jewish organizations.

Jewish critics such as David Schaecter, president of the Holocaust Survivor Foundation USA were very happy at the success of their continuous pressure to stop the November sale of the 300 other pieces in Horten’s collection.

“We are pleased to hear that the global outrage surrounding Christie’s sale of the Horten Foundation’s ill-gotten assets – derived from the theft of Jewish property during World War II – has affected the auction house and caused them to cancel their planned sale of additional Horten jewelry this fall,” Schaecter said in a statement. “This is an important victory for Holocaust survivors and the global Jewish community – and a clear signal to all auction houses about the consequences of providing such a platform to sell these kinds of tainted goods.”

The jewelry Horten showered on his Austrian wife over the years was all bought legally. Mrs. Horten eventually showcased many of her pieces in a Vienna art museum dedicated to her collections.

Source: World Israel News

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