Christie's said it would make a donation to Jewish organizations following an auction of Nazi-era jewelry. Those charities refused, and now the sale is canceled.

This photograph taken on May 8, 2023, shows an employee of Christie's auction house holding the "Briolette of India" a 90.36 carats colourless (D) diamond, a diamond necklace expected to fetch at least 10 million USD at the World of Heidi Horten sale in Geneva. - Christie's launch the sale of hundreds of jewels that belonged to Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten, whose German businessman husband made his fortune under the Nazis.
The "Briolette of India" had been expected to fetch at least $10 million at auction.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
  • Christie's canceled the second part of an auction of jewelry owned by Austrian heiress Heidi Horten.

  • Critics of the sales say the Hortens amassed their wealth from disenfranchised Jewish businessmen.

  • Horten's husband, Helmut, bought businesses from Jewish traders forced to sell in Nazi-era Germany.

Auction house Christie's said it would donate a "significant" proportion of the proceeds of an Austrian heiress' Nazi-era jewelry and art collection to to an "organisation that advances Holocaust research and education," following criticism from Jewish organizations and collectors.

However, Jewish groups rejected the offer, The New York Times reported. Christie's said Thursday the second part sale of the lucrative collection had been canceled due to the "intense scrutiny."

A portion of the exorbitant collection from the Heidi Horten Foundation, named for the Austrian heiress married to German retailer Helmut Horten, sold in May for a record-breaking $202 million.

"Christie's has taken the decision not to proceed with further sales of property from the Estate of Heidi Horten," a spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. "As previously reported, the majority of the value of the collection was sold in Geneva in May 2023 for $202 million, raising important support for philanthropic causes, including medical research, children's welfare, and access to the arts. The sale of the Heidi Horten jewellery collection has provoked intense scrutiny, and the reaction to it has deeply affected us and many others, and we will continue to reflect on it."

Helmut Horten amassed his fortune from buying businesses from Jews forced to sell them in Nazi-era Germany. A second portion of the collection was due to go on sale in November, per the Times.

"Jewish clients and institutions, and anyone with a heart and integrity, should think twice before doing business with Christie's, which chose profit over principle when it sponsored the auction of the Heidi Horten jewelry collection," Holocaust survivor David Schaecter, president of Holocaust Survivors' Foundation USA, told the Times in July.

Prior to the first sale, Christie's said it acknowledged the "painful history" of the collection, but that the Heidi Horten Foundation was "a key driver of philanthropic causes," the Times reported. All proceeds of the auction would go to the foundation.

In a glowing tribute prior to the May sale, Christie's described Heidi Horten, who died last year, as a "sensitive and passionate collector."

"Mr Horten passed away in 1987, leaving a significant inheritance to Mrs Horten, the source of which is a matter of public record. The business practices of Mr Horten during the Nazi era, when he purchased Jewish businesses sold under duress, are well documented," the auction house said in its tribute to Heidi Horten.

The Heidi Horten Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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