The auction house Christie’s has started the controversial sale of jewelry belonging to a deceased billionaire, Heidi Horten, whose husband, Helmut Horten, made a fortune under the Nazi regime. Despite criticism from organizations fighting antisemitism calling for the auction to be suspended, Christie’s has decided to proceed with the sale, arguing that the jewelry’s provenance is impeccable and that all profits from the sale will be donated to a foundation that supports philanthropic causes.
Criticism stems from the fact that Helmut Horten built his fortune in Germany during the Nazi government and benefited from the looting of properties belonging to people of Jewish origin. The sale could surpass previous records set by Christie’s, reaching over $150 million.
Organizations fighting antisemitism, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee, and the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, have called for the sale to be suspended. The French organization called it “indecent” and “doubly indecent,” as the funds used to acquire these jewels come in part from the “aryanization” of Jewish properties carried out by Nazi Germany, and the sale is intended to finance a foundation whose mission is to ensure the surname of a former Nazi passes down to posterity.
Despite the criticism, Christie’s has insisted that the jewelry’s provenance is impeccable and that the profits from the sale will be donated to a foundation that supports philanthropic causes. They also announced a significant donation of profits to Jewish institutions and Holocaust education, which they claimed was of “vital importance.” The sale continues, and the jewelry will be auctioned on different dates, both in person and online.
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