The Tel Aviv Museum of Art has pulled out of hosting a conference on Holocaust restitution organized by Christie’s, in protest at its sale in May of almost $200m of jewelry belonging to Heidi Horten, widow of a Nazi party member.
The British auction house provoked anger with its sale of over 700 items owned by the late Austrian heiress.
Her first husband Helmut Horten, built a department store empire from the businesses of Jews who were forced to sell up in 1930s Germany.
The museum had been due to host the Reflecting on Restitution conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles – an international agreement on art lost or stolen under Nazi rule – which would have been attended by families of Holocaust survivors, historians, and legal experts.
But it has now withdrawn from hosting the event, saying it was “attentive to criticism and bound by public sentiment”.
In a statement Christie’s said it “respected” the museum’s decision. It said it has arranged a year of event which were “vital to encourage greater awareness and understanding of the complex issues relating to the restitution of Nazi-looted art and the essential work being done in this field.”