GENEVA — A ruby ring and a diamond necklace fetched less than their pre-sale estimates at a Christie’s auction Wednesday of a vast jewelry collection of a late Austrian heiress that was bought with riches from a retail empire dating back to the Nazi era in Germany. Jewish groups criticized the auction.
The auction house defended the sale of some 700 pieces of jewelry. saying proceeds are going to charitable causes, including a Vienna art museum and medical research. The collection belonged to Heidi Horten, whose German husband built a retail empire starting in the 1930s. She died last year.
Advocacy groups defending the rights of Holocaust survivors and victims had urged Christie’s not to go through with the sale. The nearly 26-carat “Sunrise Ruby” — which Horten bought for the equivalent of about $30 million in 2015 — went Wednesday for just over 13 million Swiss francs (about $14.6 million), including fees and the “buyer’s premium.” The pre-sale estimate was for it to fetch 14 million to 18 million francs.
Earlier, the 90-carat “Briolette of India” diamond — the centerpiece of a necklace adorned with smaller diamonds — sold for 6.3 million francs including fees. Its pre-sale estimate range had been for 9 million to 14 million francs.
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