(NewsNation) — A jewelry collection once owned by an influential Nazi party member is to be put up for auction on Wednesday, raising a controversy over profiting from Nazi wealth.
Christie’s Auction House will sell hundreds of millions of dollars of Nazi-owned jewelry in what will be one of the largest jewelry auctions in history. The collection could fetch up to $150 million, according to the New York Times.
“I don’t know how Christie’s can pass themselves off as a legitimate auction house when they time and time again are caught with Nazi materials that were stolen and plundered from innocent people,” said NewsNation political contributor Chris Hahn.
Hahn, who is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, joined “On Balance” to discuss the impending auction, saying, “I don’t know how anyone on this earth can be caught within a mile of that auction or wearing any of that stuff.”
The jewels in the collection were procured by Austrian art collector Heidi Horten, wife of businessman Helmut Horten, who made a fortune from businesses the Nazis forcefully bought from Jews.
David De Jong, an expert in Nazi history, says the connection between the Horten fortune and Germany’s dark history is quite clear.
“Helmut Horten made the basis of the foundation of his wealth by buying up Jewish-owned businesses on the cheap, and his wife acquired this jewelry with that money,” Jong told NewsNation. “In a way, the seed of evil, it’s right there.”
Christie’s has commented on the controversy, saying the auction is too important for the foundation’s charitable work.
“We are aware there is a painful history,” Anthea Peers, president of Christie’s Europe, Middle East and Africa, said. “We weighed that up against various factors,” she added, saying that the foundation is “a key driver of philanthropic causes.”