Hungarian gilded-silver vessels and jewelry that narrowly escaped World War II looters will go on display on Friday for the first time in seven decades at a Christie’s auction preview in New York.
About 30 pieces, some dating to the 1600s, will be offered on Tuesday, including tankards engraved with cherubs and hunting scenes, and pendants and belts studded with rubies and pearls. Estimates range from $800 for a Transylvanian beaker with compass patterns to $80,000 for a seashell mounted on a silver cup that depicts Jonah’s biblical ordeal with the whale.
The silver was last fully documented in a 1930s inventory of the holdings of the Herzog family, Jewish banking magnates in Budapest. The Herzogs were also renowned for acquiring paintings by El Greco, Cranach the Elder and Renoir, among other artists. Most of the Christie’s silver lots are listed in the art historian Laszlo Mravik’s 1998 book, “ ‘Sacco di Budapest’: Depredation of Hungary, 1938-1949,” about Nazi and Soviet theft.
Story by Eve M Kahn; Photo from Christies