The “Great Mughal,” a 362.45-carat carved emerald and diamond necklace by Harry Winston, which will be a highlight of the Heidi Horten sale. (Photo courtesy of Christie’s)
In June 2021, an 81-year old art lover, Heidi Goëss-Horten, died at her home on Lake Wörthersee in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia. Worth more than $3 billion, she was considered one of the most important figures in the history of jewelry collecting.
Next month, across a series of auctions during Luxury Week in Geneva, Christie’s will offer 700 lots from the Horten collection, with a two-part live sale taking place on May 10 and 12, alongside an online sale from May 3 to May 15.
The sales will showcase unique and exceptional pieces from 20th-century designers including Cartier, Harry Winston, Boivin and Van Cleef & Arpels, include vintage and modern designs as well as an important selection of pearls, jade pieces, as well as Bulgari creations from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
If all goes as planned, it will become only the third jewelry collection in history to bring in than $100 million, and possibly considerably more than that.
The Horten Collection has a pre-sale estimate of $150 million. That is more than total amount paid for pieces in the sale of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection in 2011, which brough in $145 million, and the Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence auction in 2019, which brought in $110 million.
Heidi Horten in earlier days, wearing the 90.38-carat ‘Briolette of India’ diamond necklace, which also will go on the block at Christie’s in Geneva. (photo courtesy of Christie’s)
35.56-CARAT FANCY BLUE WEDDING GIFT
She was born Heidi Jelineki in Vienna in 1941, and was only 19 when she met her first husband Helmut Horten in a bar in 1959. He was 32 years older than her and already a department store magnate.
For their wedding, Helmut presented his wife with the Wittelsbach Blue, a natural greyish-blue diamond of 35.56 carats that had been part of both the Austrian and Bavarian crown jewels. On December 10, 2008, it was sold to London-based jeweler Laurence Graff for £16.4 million sterling, or $23.4 million. At the time the highest price ever paid at auction for a diamond.
Helmut died in 1987, leaving his widow with a fortune worth $1 billion, which allowed her to continue amassing her collection, which she had begun several years earlier.
“Heidi was a sensitive and passionate collector with a deep appreciation for jewelry,” said Max Fawcett, head of Jewelry at Christie’s in Geneva. “She had a discerning eye and curated a sophisticated collection featuring some of the finest jewels ever to come to market.”
“What makes this collection particularly remarkable is the breadth and quality of the gemstones represented,” says Fawcett. “You’ll find everything from costume jewelry and one-of-a-kind haute joaillerie pieces to historic jewels with exceptional provenance.”
ITEMS FROM THE HORTEN COLLECTION
Among the pieces on sale is a diamond, sapphire and emerald necklace by Bulgari, set with a 46.56-carat round brilliant-cut diamond at its center. Originally sold in a ring by Cartier in 1975, the diamond was later purchased by Harry Winston and subsequently refashioned into a necklace by Bulgari. Horten bought it from the Italian jewelry house in 1994.
Leading the collection is a ruby and diamond ring by Cartier , featuring the cushion-cut “Sunrise Ruby” which weighs 25.59 carats and has a saturated pigeon-blood red color and fine purity. ‘Natural rubies of such quality and size are extremely rare,’ says Fawcett. ‘The depth of color, high clarity and brilliance make it one of the most sought-after rubies on Earth.’
Another prominent piece will the “Great Mughal,” a 362.45-carat carved emerald and diamond necklace by Harry Winston.
Before the sales in Geneva, highlights from the collection will tour Christie’s showrooms across Asia, as well as in Dubai, New York, Vienna and London.
All proceeds from the sale will benefit the Heidi Horten Foundation, which established in 2020 to support the Heidi Horten Collection, a private museum that is now home to modern and contemporary art collection, as well as medical research and other philanthropic activities.
The cushion-cut “Sunrise Ruby,” featuring a 25.59-carat saturated pigeon-blood red color ruby.