May 5, 2023
One of the most challenging tasks in addressing the legacy of the Holocaust is providing justice for the massive looting of its victims. There are still many barriers to securing restitution. It is even more difficult when unscrupulous businessmen took advantage of aryanization laws and the desperate needs of Jews fleeing the Nazis to amass their fortunes. This was the case for Helmut Horten, whose wealth was achieved this way.
That fortune enabled his now-deceased widow to acquire a jewelry collection valued at $150 million, which will soon be auctioned by Christie’s. Both Christie’s and Heidi Horten’s foundation stand to benefit from this sale.
It is not enough that this sale will benefit a charitable foundation or that Christie’s will make an unspecified donation for Holocaust education. Instead, the auction should be put on hold until a serious effort is made to determine what portion of this wealth came from Nazi victims. Once determined, it should instead be directed to support the needy and infirm Holocaust survivors who are still among us and the educational programs that tell their stories.