The anonymous seller who put up for auction tattoo kits used on prisoners in the Auschwitz death camp apologized in the court over the sale during a hearing on Tuesday.
"I didn't mean to cause harm to anyone," he said, adding that he is mulling donating the dies to Yad Vashem. The man did not appear in court and his statement was given by his lawyers.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Rachel Orkabi extended the suspension of the sale of what she described as "the gruesome Holocaust artifact."
Obtained from a private collector, the eight fingernail-sized steel dies, each lined with pins to form numerals, would have been pressed into prisoners' flesh with ink to brand their serial numbers, according to auctioneer Meir Tzolman.
His website had deemed it "the most shocking of Holocaust items," with a projected sale value of $30,000 to $40,000.
The Tel Aviv District Court halted the sale of the dies earlier this month following a plea by Holocaust survivors.
Interviewed before the court injunction, Tzolman said he was the grandson of Holocaust survivors who had been tattooed. He defended the auction — from which he would take a 25% commission — as a means of ensuring the dies reached "the right hands".
A plea deal proposed by Orkabi would see the kits examined by Yad Vashem. If the museum confirms their authenticity, the state will mull acquiring and then donating them.
The court ruled the anonymous seller has 48 hours to reply to the proposal.
Last week, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he objects to the auction and announced he will join the ongoing legal battle to prevent it. "It is not appropriate for the Auschwitz stamps to be sold to the highest bidder," Mandelblit wrote in his opinion to the Tel Aviv District Court. "Such trade is invalid in terms of values, morals, and national and public interests."
The attorney general also said that the kits should be transferred to the care of Yad Vashem, a position reiterated by its chairman, Dani Dayan, who called the auction "morally unacceptable" and encouraging the proliferation of counterfeits.