Auction House Cancels Sale of Nazi-Era Jewellery

Heidi Horten's wealth largely derived from her husband, who acquired stores from Jewish exiles.

Earlier this year, Christie's auctioned jewellery from the collection of Austrian heiress Heidi Horten for a staggering $202 million. However, the second part of that auction has now been cancelled due to her association with policies from the Nazi era. Her husband, Helmut Horten, expanded his chain of department stores by taking over businesses owned by exiled Jews.

"The sale of the Heidi Horten jewellery collection has triggered intense scrutiny, and the reaction to it has deeply affected us, as it has many others, and we will continue to reflect on this," said Anthea Peers, President of Christie's Europe, Middle East, and Africa, in a statement.

The second auction was scheduled to take place in Geneva this November. It was expected to feature 300 lots sold at lower prices than the first part of the auction, which included many of Horten's finest jewels, including diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires.

While the previous auction achieved record numbers, that sale also faced similar scrutiny from Jewish organizations and some collectors. When Horten's connections to the Nazis became known, Christie's altered auction materials to explain how Helmut Horten acquired Jewish businesses that were "sold under duress," according to The New York Times. The auction house also stated that a portion of the proceeds from the sale would be donated to Holocaust research and education.

However, several Jewish groups refused to accept the money. Yad Vashem, which is behind the official Holocaust memorial in Israel, stated that it rejected the donation due to the source of the funds. The Jerusalem Post reported that organizations worldwide turned down money from Christie's.

This time, many view Christie's cancellation of the sale as a positive sign. David Schaecter, a Holocaust survivor and President of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, told reporters that it shows companies understand they can no longer easily sell "tainted products."

"We are pleased that they recognized that further sales of Heidi Horten's jewellery and art would have caused great pain to Holocaust survivors," he said.

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