(The Hill) – Christie’s announced Friday that it is canceling an upcoming auction of a late Austrian billionaire’s jewels after “intense scrutiny” over ties to Nazi Germany.
Heidi Horten’s jewel collection was scheduled for its second auction this November after the initial May sale was also criticized over her late husband’s membership in the Nazi party.
German billionaire Helmut Horten had made his wealth in the department store industry and got his start when the Nazi government pressured the Jewish owners of successful stores to sell their companies in the 1930s. He later expanded his business, purchasing a major textile manufacturer from a Jewish owner fleeing persecution.
Heidi Horten died last year at 81, with a net worth estimated by Forbes to be near $3 billion. The May sale of the first portion of her estate netted more than $200 million, a record for a single private collection.
Multiple Jewish groups protested against the sale of Horten’s collection.
“The sale of the Heidi Horten jewelry collection has provoked intense scrutiny,” Christie’s president Anthea Peers said in a statement to The New York Times. “The reaction to it has deeply affected us and many others, and we will continue to reflect on it.”
The first sale’s proceeds went to a foundation, set up by Horten, for medical research and a Vienna art museum. Following criticism of the sales, Christie’s said a portion of the proceeds would go towards Holocaust research and education.
The Jerusalem Post reported that multiple Jewish charities rejected offers of donations from the auction proceeds.