‘Excessive’ Auschwitz tattoo kit auction stopped

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hundreds had been expected to attend the auction, which sold for $200

An Israeli court has halted the sale of a tattoo kit that was supposed to be used by a prisoner at the Auschwitz death camp to become a slave.

A New York auction house said the kit would be offered to raise money for the victims of genocide.

But, under orders from the Tel Aviv district court, Sotheby’s agreed to refund the winning bidder €20,000 (£15,500; $22,500).

The auction was linked to a broader plan to address the Holocaust by collecting millions of dollars from a trove of 20,000 bank notes, 8.7m in cash and more than 11,000 gold coins.

Sotheby’s said in an earlier statement it was “deeply troubled” by allegations that the case was being used as a platform for Holocaust deniers.

The auction house previously said it was unsure why the single-bar tattoo kit was selected to go on the auction block.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The auction would have served as a fundraiser to help Holocaust victims

Lawyers for the seller, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, said he had hoped to use the proceeds to help the family of a fellow Auschwitz survivor.

However, Jewish groups led by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum, objected to the auction and even held a rally in Tel Aviv to protest against the sale.

Mr Murvitz told Reuters news agency he could not pinpoint when he received the kit, adding he believed it could be from a prisoner who was transferred to Auschwitz in 1944.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The tattoo was said to belong to “Jaws”, one of the most notable Auschwitz victims

The auction took place at the end of July.

“Jaws”, or Jan Karski, is known to have earned a split-second of fame in an escaped Nazi soldier’s infamous recording of his account of his time at Auschwitz.

The soap opera Deutschland 83 is based on his memoirs, which the Nazis doctored to appear they had come to the aid of the political prisoners.

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