This May, Christie’s is presenting The World of Heidi Horten—the unparalleled jewellery collection of the late Mrs Heidi Horten. The glorious assemblage comprises over 700 jewels, a true embodiment of Mrs Horten’s timeless elegance, glamour and taste for collecting. The collection is of impeccable quality and breadth, showcasing the art of jewellery in all its splendour.
With a pre-sale estimate of $150m – far higher than other jewellery auctions to hit the $100m mark, such as the Elizabeth Taylor sale at Christie’s in 2011 ($116m) and Maharajahs and Mughal Magnificence, also at Christie’s in 2019 ($109m) – the Heidi Horton collection is poised to break world records.
Spanning from the 1970s to the current day, the collection not only comprises some of the world’s most precious diamonds, coloured gemstones and jadeite but also includes the most exceptional curation of Bulgari jewels to have ever appeared at auction.
See also: Horror in Surrey: Ewbank’s Cinema Poster Collection
The sale also represents exceptional jewels by other famous Jewellery houses such as Boivin, Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels. Highlights are the Briolette of India, a 90cts briolette cut diamond, by Harry Winston, the Sunrise ruby, a 25cts Burmese ruby ring, by Cartier and the Art Deco Egyptian revival sautoir, by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Highlights include a magnificeent Harry Winston Briolette of India diamond and necklace, a briolette-cut diamond of 90.36 carats, necklace of marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, platinum, two parts of the neckchain detachable and may be worn as a short necklace, briolette pendant detachable, unsigned, one extension with maker’s mark (Jacques Timey), estimate CHF 9,000,000 – CHF 14,000,000; and a Bulgari coloured diamond and emerald bangle, with fancy yellow cushion brilliant-cut diamond of 32.32 carats, round yellow diamonds, round and baguette-cut diamonds, calibré buff-top emeralds, 18k yellow gold (Italian mark), signed Bvlgari, estimate CHF 320,000 – CHF 500,000.
The collection is offered as a sale series, beginning with The World of Heidi Horten: Magnificent Jewels Part I on 10th May, followed by a Part II auction on 12th May and an online sale, open for bidding from 3rd to 15th May. From show-stopping diamonds, rubies and jade to outstanding pieces from masters of a generation, including Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels, the sales are poised to become the largest and most valuable jewellery auctions to date.
A second online sale will take place later this year offering the remaining jewels from the collection. As per Mrs Horten’s wishes, all of the Estate’s proceeds will benefit The Heidi Horten Foundation—established in 2021 to support The Heidi Horten Collection as well as medical research and other philanthropic activities that she supported for many decades.
Heidi Horten was an Austrian philanthropist known for her elegance, glamour and fine taste. From an early age, Mrs. Horten was exposed to objects of great beauty from her father, who was an engraver, and later during her first marriage at the age of 19 in 1966 to German businessman Helmut Horten, when she began to refine her eye for jewellery and works of art.
Over the course of her life, Mrs. Horten became passionately involved in areas as diverse as social welfare, sports and medical research, that she went on to support for decades. Throughout the years, she amassed one of the world’s most brilliant jewellery collections as well as a stunning assemblage of decorative arts, and modern and contemporary art, the latter of which is housed in The Heidi Horten Collection museum in Vienna.
Mr. Horten, her first husband, 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.
All of the Estate’s proceeds will benefit The Heidi Horten Foundation—established in 2021 to support The Heidi Horten Collection as well as medical research, child welfare, and other philanthropic activities that she supported for many decades. Christie’s will make a significant contribution from its final proceeds of the auction to an organisation that further advances Holocaust research and education.
An exhibition in Geneva is free and open to the viewing public:
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues
Quai des Bergues 33
7th–12th May 2023
UPDATE, 1.9.23: Christie’s has cancelled the remaining sales of jewellery from the estate of late Austrian art collector Heidi Horten, after the auction house came under fire over the source of Horten’s wealth, which was accumulated by her late husband in Nazi-era Germany by “Aryanising” Jewish companies.
After an outcry from clients like Cathy Lasry, the wife of billionaire financier Marc Lasry, Christie’s pledged to donate “a significant contribution” to Holocaust research and education groups. In July the Tel Aviv Museum of Art called off an event with Christie’s focused on art looted by Nazis, telling media that the museum was “attentive to criticism and committed to public sensitivity” after Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors complained. Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to Holocaust victims, reportedly declined to accept a donation from Christie’s.
Christie’s said on Thursday 31st August that it would not proceed with further sales of property from Horten’s estate, cancelling the sale of 300 additional jewels that were scheduled for an online auction in November.
“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,” Anthea Peers, Christie’s president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a statement. The previous sales raised money for “important support for philanthropic causes, including medical research, children’s welfare and access to the arts”, Christie’s noted.