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Holocaust survivor group claims victory after Christie’s cancels second auction of jewelry linked to Nazi plunder

(JTA) – Christie’s has announced that it will not follow through with plans to hold a second auction of jewelry from an estate that was partially built on Nazi plunder.

The announcement on Thursday comes following a campaign led by Jewish groups against Christie’s that began earlier this year, when the elite auction house sold jewelry belonging to Heidi Horten, the late heiress to the fortune of her husband Helmut Horten, a former Nazi Party member. In the 1930s, Helmut Horten bought Jewish businesses that were relinquished by their owners under duress from Nazi officials and went on to make a fortune as a department store owner. 

The sale in May totaled $202 million, making it the largest-ever auction of jewelry. But public pressure on Christie’s continued following that sale, as Holocaust survivors castigated the auction house over the course of months for, in their view, obscuring the legacy of a Nazi businessman and then profiting from his illicit gains. 

On Thursday, Christie’s acknowledged that it has felt the impact of that pressure campaign and said it has decided to cancel the sale of an additional 300 items from the Horten jewelry collection, which were supposed to go on the auction block in November.

“The sale of the Heidi Horten jewelry 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,” Anthea Peers, president of Christie’s EMEA division said in a statement. 

She added that the funds raised in the May sale, benefiting a new foundation set up in Heidi Horten’s name, are designated for medical research, children’s welfare and access to the arts. In addition to those fields, the Heidi Horten Foundation funds an eponymous art museum in Vienna. 

Holocaust survivor David Schaecter, who serves as president of Holocaust Survivor Foundation USA and has been an outspoken critic of Christie’s, welcomed the announcement.

“We are pleased to hear that the global outrage surrounding Christie’s sale of the Horten Foundation’s ill-gotten assets — derived from the theft of Jewish property during World War II — has affected the auction house and caused them to cancel their planned sale of additional Horten jewelry this fall,” Schaecter said in a statement. “We are glad that they recognized the great pain additional sales of Horten art and jewelry would cause Holocaust survivors.”

At first, the outcry over the sale centered on Christie’s alleged whitewashing of the Hortens’ reputation by failing to disclose the origin of much of the family’s wealth. Then, Holocaust survivor groups and others focused on the fact that Christie’s was profiting from the sale. 

Critics of Christie’s dismissed the auction house’s pledge to donate some of its proceeds to Holocaust education and research as insufficient. Jewish groups — including Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, and the Claims Conference, which is responsible for distributing reparations from Germany to survivors — have so far rejected donations offered by Christie’s. It remains unclear whether Christie’s will acquiesce to demands that it donate all profits from the sale. 

Schaecter’s group has recently been focused on a letter-writing campaign asking Austrian cultural institutions and government agencies to avoid collaborating with the Heidi Horten Collection, the art museum funded by the Horten estate. That effort follows an earlier campaign that successfully pressured the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to cancel an event about art restitution organized by Christie’s. 

In his statement, Schaecter added that other houses considering sponsoring similar auctions should regard the Horten case as a warning.

“This is an important victory for Holocaust survivors and the global Jewish community — and a clear signal to all auction houses about the consequences of providing such a platform to sell these kinds of tainted goods,” Schaecter. 


The post Holocaust survivor group claims victory after Christie’s cancels second auction of jewelry linked to Nazi plunder appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle

In this pamphlet, the country of Jordan is billed as the “The Holy Land”. This material introduced visitors to the Kingdom of Jordan pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Ironically, the motto of the fair was “Peace Through Understanding”.  It describes a pavilion that includes a “photographic survey of the Holy […]

The post Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police

Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School, located near the Finch and Dufferin intersection in Toronto, had shots fired in its direction Saturday at 4:52 a.m. The incident was captured on a security video. The suspects can be seen getting out of a dark-coloured vehicle and opening fire on the school, which serves the Hasidic community with […]

The post A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Setareh Maleki and director Mohammad Rasoulof attend a press conference for “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” (Les Graines du figuier sauvage) in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof recalled how he had to decide within hours whether to go into exile or serve a prison sentence, saying it was still difficult to talk about it during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Rasoulof was in the French Riviera town for the premiere of his new drama “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” almost two weeks after announcing he had fled Iran and entered into exile in the wake of his sentencing to eight years in jail and flogging.

After he learned that he had a week left before his sentence would be implemented, things moved quickly, he said, especially as authorities had caught wind of the existence of his new film.

“I had to say to myself, well, do I want to be in prison, or should I leave Iran, geographic Iran, and join the cultural Iran that exists beyond its borders?” recalled the director.

“It took me two hours to make the decision. I walked around, I paced around my house. I said goodbye to my plants that I love, and I have many, many plants in my house,” he added.

Then, Rasoulof left all his belongings and walked out of the house. “It’s not an easy decision to take. It still isn’t easy even to talk about it today with you,” he told journalists.

Iran‘s culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili told state media this month that Rasoulof’s film had been made illegally and there would be a crackdown on movies without permits.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” is about a court official who grows increasingly controlling of his family during the 2022 protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting dress codes.

The film drew the longest standing ovation at the festival after its premiere on Friday night and was well received by critics who called it “mesmerizingly gripping” and “shattering.”

The director, who has been arrested and detained several times for charges ranging from filming without a permit to “collusion against national security,” said that the idea for the film came from years of confrontation with secret services.

“All these characters were inspired by real people, all the scenes come from real situations,” he said, adding that experience has also made him adept at avoiding secret services.

“Our life is fairly similar to that of gangsters, except we are gangsters of the cinema,” he joked at the news conference.

The post At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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