Heidi Horten’s Jewels and the Shadow of the Past

Heidi Horten’s Jewels and the Shadow of the Past
The pear-shaped “Briolette of India” diamond is a good 90 carats.

This Cartier ring with “pigeon’s blood” ruby ​​is said to be worth up to 20 million dollars.

Following an online auction, some of the most spectacular pieces were set to go on sale at Christie’s in Geneva on Wednesday and Friday. But the shadow of the German entrepreneur Helmut Horten’s Nazi past is hanging over the jewels – and there are increasing calls from Jewish organizations to suspend the auction.

The collection of the Horten heiress, who died last year at the age of 81, includes a total of 700 pieces of jewelry, their value is estimated at 150 to 200 million dollars (137 to 183 million euros). The online auction of 300 lots has been running since May 3rd and until May 15th. Less than 100 pieces were offered on Wednesday, with 150 more lots scheduled for Friday in Geneva before the online auction resumes in November with the remaining pieces of jewellery.

A ring for 20 million dollars

Among the highlights is a Cartier ring set with a 25.59-carat “pigeon’s blood” ruby ​​estimated to be worth between $15 million and $20 million, according to Christie’s jewelry expert Rahul Kadakia. According to him, the pear-shaped “Briolette of India” diamond with a good 90 carats, which is emblazoned on a necklace made of countless small diamonds, is also exceptional.

This Cartier ring with “pigeon’s blood” ruby ​​is said to be worth up to 20 million dollars.

“The last time Christie’s held an auction of this caliber was in 2011 when we sold Elizabeth Taylor’s collection,” Kadakia explained. She brought in $ 145 million (132 million euros) within two days. This time, “in order not to have so many pieces of jewelry on the market at the same time”, sales were stretched over a longer period.

$156 million in proceeds

The first round of the auction at Christie’s in Geneva on Wednesday raised $156 million (€142.35 million). The total surpassed the low estimate of $139 million, according to a broadcast.

According to Forbes, Heidi Horten left a fortune of $2.9 billion. However, the origin of her husband’s fortune, who died in 1987 and owned one of the largest department store chains in Germany, has met with criticism.

NSDAP past

According to a historian’s report published in January 2022 and commissioned by the Horten Foundation, Helmut Horten was a member of the NSDAP for a long time. In 1936, three years after the Nazis seized power, he took over the textile department store Alsberg in Duisburg at the age of 27 after its Jewish owners had fled.

He later took over other businesses that had previously been owned by Jews. He was therefore accused of profiting from the “Aryanization” of Jewish companies during the Nazi era.

Pressure on auction house increases

The pressure on the auction house to suspend the auction for further investigation has been growing for days. “Do not reward those whose families have enriched themselves from desperate Jews who were persecuted and threatened by the Nazis,” urged the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The American Jewish Committee requested that “the auction be put on hold pending serious efforts to determine what portion of this wealth came from Nazi victims” – and then returned to survivors and for educational programs. The umbrella organization of Jewish organizations in France simply called the auction “indecent,” especially since the proceeds go to a foundation “whose task is to preserve the name of a former Nazi for posterity.”

Christie’s said it approved the auction because “all proceeds from the auction will go to charity.” In addition, according to the auction house, it intends to donate a “considerable sum” for Holocaust research and mediation.

Source: Nachrichten

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