Christie’s upcoming jewelry sale could be one of the biggest in history.
The two-part live auction, dubbed The World of Heidi Horten, comprises more than 700 pieces of high jewelry from the estate of the late European collector. Horten’s trove, which includes diamond rings, pearl necklaces, and dazzling bracelets, carries a staggering pre-sale estimate of more than $150 million. According to the auction house, it is the “largest and most valuable collection” to ever go under the gavel and could set a new auction record.
Growing up in Vienna, Austria in the 1940s, Horten learned to appreciate “objects of great beauty” from her father, who was an engraver. She later married German entrepreneur Helmut Horten and continued to hone her eye for jewelry and art. She educated herself over the years and only bought the best, as this collection shows.
Leading the sale is a Harry Winston necklace that has the legendary 90-carat Briolette of India diamond at the center. Originally sold by Cartier in 1909, the extravagant piece is expected to fetch an equally extravagant $10 million. Cartier’s “Sunrise” ruby-and-diamond ring of 25 carats is another standout and is estimated to fetch between $15 million and $20 million.
Additional highlights include a three-strand pearl necklace by Harry Winston (estimate: $7 million to $10 million), as well as a diamond bracelet (estimate: $5 million to $7 million) and emerald pendant necklace (estimate: $500,000 to $700,000) by Winston. Notable Bulgari jewels from the past five decades will also be up for grabs.
If the auction realizes $150 million, it will comfortably eclipse previous record-setters. Christie’s says only two jewelry auctions have passed the $100 million mark to date: The 2011 Liz Taylor auction that brought in $145 million and the 2019 Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale that achieved $110 million. As per Horten’s wishes, all of the proceeds will go towards The Heidi Horten Foundation to support the Vienna-based art museum she founded.
“This is a historic moment for Christie’s to have the privilege of offering one of the world’s finest and most important jewelry collections originating from Europe,” Christie’s president Anthea Peers said in a statement. “Furthermore, to witness a philanthropic effort of this scale is as rare as it is remarkable.”
Part one of the auction series will take place in Geneva on May 10, followed by part two on May 12. Additional lots from Horten’s private collection will be sold online, with the first sale opening on May 3 and running through May 15. A second online auction for the remaining jewels will open in November.