Criticisms of the sale focused on her husband, Helmut, a Nazi party member who launched his retail empire by acquiring – at a reduced price – Jewish-owned businesses, under Hitler’s ‘Aryanisation’ programme. The May sale fetched $202m from 400 lots; the final auction of 300 lots was due to take place in November.
This reversal has been welcomed by Jewish organisations, which believe it is a signal to auction houses not to sell ‘tainted’ goods. One questions whether this is a healthy and sensible precedent.
Should the auction of a murderer’s assets, or those of a paedophile – to take extreme examples – take place? The enquiry is especially poignant when the vendor concerned is still alive. However, nobody is perfect, so where does one fairly draw the line?