A controversial auction of jewels linked to Nazism raises criticism around the world

The jewels belonging to Heidi Hortena late Austrian millionaire widow of a German man who made his fortune thanks to Nazismwere auctioned off this Wednesday, despite strong criticism from organizations that fight against antisemitism.

The expensive collection, made up of more than 700 jewelsIt was put up for sale by the renowned auction house Christie’s and part of it has already forced to collect more than 155 million dollars.

This Wednesday, only 100 pieces went on sale, in a face-to-face auction in Geneva, Switzerland. On Friday, another 150 will be auctioned in the same way. While the rest of the pieces will be sold to online buyers in November.

Christie’s house located in Geneva, Switzerland, was the venue for the auction of Heidi Horten’s jewelry

Among the most outstanding jewels in the collection of the late Heidi Horten, you can find a ring with a ruby “dove’s blood” Delaware 25.59 caratswhich he bought for 30 million dollars in 2015.

In addition, it also has a necklace adorned with the 90 carat “Indian Briolette” diamond, which could exceed 15 million dollars. They also offer a large amount of jewelry bulgariwhich have never before been brought together in a single auction.

The international director of the famous auction house, described the sale as a “success” and stressed that it surpassed the record set by the dispersal of Elizabeth Taylor’s assets in 2011, which exceeded 100 million dollars, and the sale of “Maharajas and the Mongolian splendor” in 2019, which also exceeded that amount.

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The necklace that has the 90-carat “Indian Briolette” also has small diamonds around it.

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A collection of jewels stained by Nazism

The husband of the deceased owner of the jewelry was Helmut Hortena German man who benefited during the Nazi Germany exploiting Jewish-owned businesses under duress, in addition to having been a member of the party led by adolf hitler.

With the rise of Nazism to power, the owners of the Jewish community found themselves in the need to flee. In turn, thousands of his trades were ”aryanized”, that is to say, that their values ​​were reduced by the boycott measures and propaganda attacks against them.

This way, Many Jews do not receive any compensation for their premises.while German buyers such as Horten benefited greatly from these measures.

In 1936, Helmut Horten took over the Alsberg textile company, after the flight of their owners. Subsequently, he took control of several businesses that belonged to people from the Jewish community who fled from the Nazi Reich. That is why, years later, the millionaire was accused of as a result of property looting.

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Although the businessman was not a very “ideological” person, according to some historians, he did not resist Nazi laws either. By 1937, the man who was join the Nazi Party, although he was expelled seven years later, and even arrested for a short period.

As explained Pedro Hoereshistorian of the University of Wurzburgis Germanywhom Heidi Horten had commissioned to study her husband’s business empire to learn the origin of his fortune, the story of the millionaire “it was complicated”.

The study carried out by the researcher indicates that Horten’s fortune increased greatly during the war years, allowing him access to the hundreds of expensive jewels bought for his wife.

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The 25.59 carat “Dove’s Blood” ruby, bought for $30 million, was the most expensive diamond in the world.

In the report, Hoeres added a snippet of a spanish documentattributed to the “Control Commission for Germany” of the post-war British authorities, in which they described Horten as “a scoundrel of the worst kind” and “a completely depraved character” who should be brought to justice.

After the Nazis were defeated in 1945, Horten was held in a British camp for two years, losing much of his possessions. In 1948, after his release, he took advantage of loans to create what would become the fourth chain of stores in Germany, taking advantage of what was established during the Nazi period.

The rain of criticism against the auction of jewels linked to Nazism

Since the Chrisie’s chain announced the auction, hundreds of organizations have raised their voices against the decision to sell the jewels obtained thanks to the Nazi regime, urging suspend the eventsomething that ultimately did not happen.

At the beginning of the month, the Simon Wiesenthal CenterThe global organization that tracks fugitive Nazi war criminals called for the auction to be withdrawn, saying it “does not reward those whose families can getting rich thanks to desperate jewspersecuted and threatened by the Nazis”.

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The remaining jewels of the collection will be auctioned on Friday in Geneva and online in November.

To this call is added the American Jewish Committee which, in addition, criticized the decision of Christie’s to donate a part of the sale to educational organizations on the holocaust. “Instead, the auction should be suspended until a serious effort is made to determine how much of this wealth came from Nazi victims,” ​​he said from the center.

He Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) He also joined the criticism against the auction, calling it “indecent” because of the way in which Heidi Horten’s husband had obtained the fortune with which he bought the jewels.

Along with these organizations, david de jong, author of “Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Richest Dynasties” against the sale of products belonging to the Horten family. “He laid the foundation for his wealth during the Third Reich, by acquiring Jewish-owned companies under duress, at bargain prices,” he said. The New York Times.

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Despite the criticism, the auction went ahead. days before the sale raul kadariainternational director of Christie’s defended himself, and remarked that although the origin of the jewels is irreproachableAll proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Helmut Horten Foundationwho supports philanthropic causes.”

“Christie’s is making a significant donation for Holocaust research and education,” he said. And we add: “We believe that in the end, the proceeds from the sale will be good, and this is the reason why he had to take on the project.”

Finally, the president of Crif, jonathan arfiHe again pointed against those statements, maintaining that “this auction is doubly indecent”. And he explained: “Not only did the funds used to acquire these jewels come in part from the ‘Aryanization’ of Jewish properties carried out by Nazi Germany, but also the sale is intended to finance a foundation whose mission is to ensure that pass on to posterity the last name of a former Nazi”.


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