Christie's Cancels Auction of Famous Austrian Billionaire's Jewelry Collection
Christie's auction house has decided to cancel the sale of the of the last lots of Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten's jewelry collection due to controversies surrounding her husband's association with Nazi Germany, according to a report by AFP.
In an email sent to AFP on Friday, Christie's confirmed that they have chosen "not to proceed with any further sales of assets from Heidi Horten's estate", corroborating information previously reported by The New York Times.
The Horten collection included over 700 pieces of jewelry, with many of them fetching a total of $202 million when sold in May. The last set of items was initially planned for auction in November.
Why Christie's Decided To Cancel The Jewelry Auction
Nevertheless, Christie's explained that "the sale of Heidi Horten's jewelry collection has garnered significant attention, and the ensuing reactions have deeply affected both us and many others. We intend to continue reflecting on these matters."
Christie's had previously articulated their reasons for accepting and auctioning this impressive jewelry collection just before the May sale.
In response to the criticism they faced, the esteemed auction house pledged to donate the entire proceeds from the sale to philanthropic causes.
Moreover, Christie's committed to making a substantial contribution from the sale's proceeds to Jewish institutions and educational programs concerning the Holocaust, which they deemed "of vital importance."
Rahul Kadakia, the auctioneer and International Director of the jewelry department at Christie's, provided this assurance.
However, these assurances did not quell the criticisms, including those from the American Jewish Committee.
The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) also opposed the sale, describing it as "indecent."
Holocaust Memorial Declined A Donation From Christie's
According to The New York Times, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, declined a donation from Christie's, and other organizations did the same due to concerns regarding the source of Heidi Horten's husband's wealth.
Heidi Horten's husband owned one of Germany's largest universal department store chains.
In 1936, three years after Adolf Hitler rose to power, he acquired the textile company Alsberg, whose Jewish owners had fled, and subsequently took control of several other stores that had once belonged to Jews before the war.
Subsequently, Helmut Horten faced accusations of profiting from the "Aryanization" of Jewish-owned properties, which involved the transfer of ownership of businesses owned by individuals of Jewish origin.