“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

‘The world of Heidi Horten’ by Christie’s

Christie’s presents ‘The world of Heidi Horten’, the exquisite jewellery collection of the late Mrs. Heidi Horten. With a pre-sale estimate of more than $150 million, this private jewellery selection is the largest and most valuable ever to come to auction.

UPDATE, 1 September – Christie’s released a statement, that it would not proceed with further sales of property from Heidi Horten’s estate. The auction house has cancelled the remaining sales of 300 additional jewels that were scheduled for an online auction in November.

UPDATE, 10 May – A number of Jewish groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a US-based Jewish human rights group have asked Christie’s to halt the sale until all – the below mentioned – research into links to Nazi-era acquisitions had been completed. The auction house defended the sale, the auction Part 1 has started today at 2pm CET.

I learned more about Heidi Horten’s life and passions, when I visited the Leopold Museum in Vienna in 2018. The ‘WOW! The Heidi Horten Collection’ was the first public exhibition of one of Europe’s most sensational private art collections, including 170 pieces from Gustav Klimt, Roy Lichtenstein, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol or Damien Hirst. 

In 2022 I saw the Heidi Horten Collection museum in Vienna, with an inaugural exhibition, titled ‘Open’. It is located in a former archducal chancellory, redesigned by Marie-Therese Harnoncourt-Fuchs and Ernst Fuchs. (Heidi Horten passed away at her home at Lake Wörthersee on 12 June, just days after the opening of the museum.)

Heidi Goëss-Horten (1941-2022) was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. She attended the Hospitality Management School of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and went on to work as a secretary in a Viennese law firm. She grew up in a family environment in which art was a natural part of life. Her father was a technical draughtsman and engraver and made portraits of his daughter that are now part of the Heidi Horten Collection. Over the last few decades she has amassed an impressive selection of several hundred paintings, sculptures and graphics that offers a profound overview of art movements from around 1900, through to classic modernism and contemporary art. Her first husband, Helmut Horten (1909-1987) was the founder of the German department store business Horten AG. His entrepreneurial activity during the Second World War was controversial and still being researched.

Heidi Horten had great taste in art but she also selected her jewellery with an expert eye and passion. 

She owned outstanding creations from great Maisons such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany, Harry Winston and more. Among the highlights are the stunning Briolette of India Diamond Necklace by Harry Winston (originally sold by Cartier in 1909) with a 90ct D-colour diamond or a three strand natural pearl necklace also by Harry Winston with a cushion shaped 11ct pink diamond clasp (lot 45, estimate USD 7-10 million). 

A very important selection of Bulgari creations are also at the auction – from the 1970s to present day, retracing more than five decades of the firm’s signature Italian craftsmanship. For example a Bulgari bracelet with a 32.23ct cushion brilliant-cut diamond, square-shaped buff-top emeralds, round and baguette-cut diamonds (lot 74) or a diamond, sapphire and emerald necklace (lot 76). 

The Great Mughal Emerald Pendant Necklace by Harry Winston (estimate USD 500,000-700,000) has an exceptional carved emerald centrepiece of 362 carats. You can discover even more amazing jewelleries and the details of the auctions here.

Christie’s will present 400 of the 700 jewels across two live auctions at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva (10 and 12 May). In addition there will be one online sale 3-15 May, followed by another one in November 2023.

The Collection will be devoted to philanthropy, per Mrs. Horten’s wishes: all of the Estate’s proceeds will benefit The Heidi Horten Foundation, established in 2020 to support the museum of the Heidi Horten Collection in Vienna as well as medical research and other philanthropic activities, which has been supported by her for many decades. 

UPDATE – 15 May: The World of Heidi Horten: Magnificent Jewels Part I and II live auctions achieved CHF 138,344,700 and CHF 37,833,260, respectively. The online auction (3-15 May) closed with sale total CHF 3,768,660.

Source: press release. Photo credits: Christie’s. The Heidi Horten Foundation
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