WJRO STATEMENT ON CHRISTIE’S RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT ON NAZI LOOTED ART
(New York, NY) October 2, 2023: The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), which has been in an ongoing dialogue with Christie’s, released the following statement in response to a significant new policy announced by Christie’s regarding researching the original sources of wealth used to acquire objects during the Nazi period from 1933-1945 as part of its global business practices. This comes after an international outcry regarding the sale of the late Heidi Horten’s controversial jewelry collection and the subsequent cancellation of a planned second sale from the estate. Horten’s former husband, Helmut, first made his fortune in Nazi Germany by buying out Jewish businesses “sold under duress.”
Gideon Taylor, President, WJRO issued the following statement:
“We welcome this important public commitment by Christie’s to change its business practices by researching the original sources of wealth used to acquire art and other objects during the Holocaust era. Provenance research on an item is a key part of art restitution, but it is also essential to look at the context and history that lie behind that piece of art. We are seeking not just the restitution of art but also a commitment to uphold the historical record.”
The full statement on Christie’s website reads as follow:
Widening the Lens of History
As the ideas and historical perspectives that shape the art world continue to evolve and change, Christie’s continues to adapt and to advance our own understanding and approach to our global business practices.
As part of this process, Christie’s is committed not only to researching the provenance of objects, but also to understanding the history of the original sources of wealth used to acquire them, particularly when this wealth was built during the Nazi period from 1933-1945. As we widen the lens of our research, we are engaged in a current effort to broaden our cataloguing process.
In today’s increasingly complex environment, through essential research and important ongoing dialogue, we continue to learn more about the historical record which can best inform our processes and decisions.
The text is here.
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