Tel Aviv Art Museum Calls Off Christie’s-Hosted Conference Following Jewelry Auction Fallout

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art has canceled a conference hosted by Christie’s amid continued pushback over the auction house’s recent sale of collector Heidi Horten’s collection.

That auction, staged in May, raked in more than $200 million, becoming the most expensive private jewelry sale ever. (In addition to buying jewelry, Horten, who died in 2022 and formerly ranked on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, amassed a rich art collection that can be seen in a recently opened private museum in Vienna.) But the Christie’s sale, which totaled some 700 lots, including a $14.5 million Cartier ring, faced controversy over the late collector’s source of income.

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

Some organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, issued statements in the run-up to the auction claiming that Horten’s wealth had been been accrued through the disenfranchisement of Jews during World War II. The American Jewish Committee said that her husband, Helmut Horten, “took advantage of aryanization laws and the desperate needs of Jews fleeing the Nazis.”

Despite calls for the sale’s cancelation, Christie’s forged onward. Anthea Peers, president of Christie’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa, told the New York Times, “We are aware there is a painful history. We weighed that up against various factors,” including Horten’s philanthropy.”

Now, it seems that the auction has continued to haunt Christie’s.

In a statement to Israel Hayom, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art said it had canceled the conference, due to happen this December, amid the bitter condemnation Christie’s had faced. Titled “Reflecting on Restitution,” the conference was intended to mark 25 years of restitution-related efforts on Christie’s behalf.

“The Tel Aviv Art Museum is attentive to criticism and bound by public sentiment and has decided not to host the ‘Reflecting on Restitution’ conference with Christie’s,” the museum told Israel Hayom.

A Christie’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to ARTnews’s request for comment.

The criticism to which the museum referred had been fielded by Jewish groups last week. The Jerusalem Post reported that the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA has sent a letter to the museum, claiming that the conference would offer “a platform within the Jewish State for Holocaust profiteers to justify their plunder and marginalize Holocaust survivors around the world.”

Adding further complications to the matter were allegations of conflict of interest spurred by Marc Porter, a senior executive at Christie’s who is also a board member of the Tel Aviv Museum’s American Friends group. A Christie’s spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post that there was no conflict of interest and that Porter had not been involved in “negotiations” surrounding the conference.


No votes yet.
Please wait...