• Germany edition
 
Art icon Tacheles shrinks after €1-million payout
Photo: DPA

Art icon Tacheles shrinks after €1-million payout

Published: 05 Apr 2011 17:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Apr 2011 17:29 GMT+02:00

The bars, restaurants and outdoor artists’ studios that hundreds of thousands of visitors have become used to seeing in recent years have already closed. Gruppe Tacheles, representing about 80 occupants of the disputed site, say they have accepted a €1 million payment to leave. They have handed over their keys and left the premises.

A further 80 loosely grouped artists – who are separate from Gruppe Tacheles and indeed have an antagonistic relationship with them – are staying.

“We’re going on with our programme as usual,” said Tacheles spokeswoman Linda Cerna. “We have a great premier tomorrow (Wednesday) with the Rosie Kay Dance Company from Britain and an exhibition opening on Friday.”

However, it will be a quite different-looking Tacheles to the sprawling, bustling complex – complete with indoor and outdoor bars, restaurants, a cinema and a large, outdoor marquee housing artists’ workshops – that it has become in recent years. Those are all being removed after the Gruppe Tacheles agreed to leave.

The graffiti-smothered squat has for years been the subject of a byzantine saga pitting developers and a major bank against the artists and different artist factions against one another. Occupied soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former Jewish department store in Berlin’s Mitte district became the capital’s best-known bohemian hang-out and a major tourist attraction. The city of Berlin strongly supports the project, though it has stopped short of offering to buy the site and maintain it as a cultural venue.

Eventually, as the forces of gentrification changed the area, the artists in Tacheles have come under increasing pressure to get out. The effective owner of the site, HSH Nordbank, has been trying to evict the artists and sell the property. A planned auction for the site on Monday was postponed at the last minute.

Complicating matters is the fact that nobody can or will say where the €1 million payment has come from. HSH Nordbank spokeswoman Gesine Dähn said the bank was not behind the payment and did not know who – if anyone – had made it. Gruppe Tacheles spokesman Tim Africa said the money had come anonymously via Berlin lawyers Schultz und Seldeneck.

Africa defended the group’s decision to take the money in return for leaving the premises despite just a week ago vowing to fight on.

“The time is over and we’re really way past deadline. That was the overwhelming feeling in the group,” he said.

They had accepted the payout because they could no longer continue the legal fight to stay, he said. The money would be used for “a new cultural project” once various costs including legal expenses had been settled. However, he refused to say which individuals were actually receiving the payout and added that the group’s leading members, including co-founder Ludwig Eben, operator of the now-closed Zapata Café, would not comment on their decision.

Tacheles spokeswoman Cerna said the remaining artists were not surprised that Gruppe Tacheles had accepted the payout.

“I don’t think any of the artists are sad they’re leaving,” she said.

Tony Sykes, who manages the Dutch artist Tim Roeloffs – perhaps Tacheles’ most prominent son – said the remaining artists planned to stay and keep Tacheles going as a cultural icon.

“We are going to carry on. Tim Roeloffs is going to carry on and we wouldn’t sell off 20 years of cult-status legacy,” he said.

David Wroe (david.wroe@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

19:29 April 5, 2011 by dcgi
So about €12,500 each?
19:51 April 5, 2011 by derExDeutsche
I was wondering where all those Euros for Hamburgers at the Hard Rock Cafe came from.
22:17 April 5, 2011 by ado1000
Hey, here is an idea. Why don't we take what is unique about Berlin and replace it with a bank or shopping mall?? Good thinking!
09:44 April 6, 2011 by DoubleDTown
Hey, here is another idea: 1991 is over.
11:05 April 7, 2011 by Carmelb
Sad..sad..sad...without Tacheles Mitte takes another step to becoming ..well..just another bland mid-European city centre full of standardised bistros and chain stores ...
14:33 April 8, 2011 by LecteurX
Why would they care, those "investors"? They're just after money and in Berlin they see opportunities that are so rare in other capitals. They couldn't care less about the damage they're doing, as there will always be idiots to pay for whatever ridiculous property developments that will emerge instead of Tacheles, C/O and others, people who will be willing to pay overpriced hotel rooms to enjoy "the flair" of Berlin Mitte, of which there is not much left, and which is under constant pressure from the real estate landgrab.

Maybe some day Berlin will be uninteresting, boring and standardised like other European capital. There will just be the sh!tty climate, perpetual grey skies over a gigantic Potsdamer Platz left, without the countless landmarks of Paris or Rome and architectural beauty, without the warm weather of Barcelona, without the economic and cultural prominence of London... then the tourists will stop coming because there will be nothing left and Berlin will fade back into irrelevance. Then all the "investors" will go belly-up with they cr*ppy luxury hotels.
13:13 April 13, 2011 by codegremlin
Are we saying here that all Berlin has to offer to the world is a graffiti filled ruin, frequented by punks with angry dogs, that smells like urine and has dried vomit spread on the pavement in front of it (or at least that was my experience when I last visited it in 2005 don't know if it looks any different now)?

I really think that even a shopping mall would be preferable to the current miserable condition, the site was a department store originally after all and it would be a chance to restore the facade of the building to it's former glory. And Berlin is a unique, ever evolving city, so don't worry about it losing its character.
14:03 April 14, 2011 by Angry Ami
Too bad, was a cool place, especially liked cafe Zapata, great to go see gigs in summer then hang out in the back yard, what I don't understand is why the artists didn't get together and pool their resources, there must be a wealthy creative type in the city who would have helped, actually somebody did buy most of the folks out, but to me that's weird, a buy out but no support, and yeah it can't be stopped, Berlin will be gentrified.
19:20 April 14, 2011 by efnisien
Shame on Gruppe Tacheles for taking this money! Tacheles represents all that is good about modern Berlin, with its thriving alternative arts scene and great nightlife. Tacheles is on of the main tourist attractions in the area yet retains a sense of authenticity. One can't help but think that a new, rather staid, version of Berlin will emerge from the sad demise of Tacheles and other artistic residences.

In many cities around the world we find governments attempting to 'create' -often by means of large-scale investment - the kind of artistic hub that already exists in Tacheles. It will be a devastating loss to the city for a largely self-sustaining and organic expression of creativity to be demolished in the name of 'progress'.
Today's headlines
Have Your Say
Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA

Should Germany legalize cannabis?

A New York Times editorial on Sunday called for the US to drop its ban on marijuana, calling the strongly-worded law a "laughing stock". Should Germany follow the US states of Colorado and Washington and legalize recreational use of the drug? READ  

Cows kill German dog walker in Austria
File Photo: DPA

Cows kill German dog walker in Austria

A 45-year-old German woman died when she was attacked by a herd of 20 cows and calves on Monday afternoon on an Alpine pasture in Tyrol's Stubaital valley. READ  

Knut goes on display in Berlin museum
Knut's new home in Berlin's Natural History Museum. Photo: DPA

Knut goes on display in Berlin museum

Germany’s favourite polar bear Knut is set to pull in the crowds again - but this time from a display case. More than three years after his death, his real fur has been used to create a new Knut for a museum exhibition. READ  

And the winner of the EU single market is...
German incomes are higher thanks to the EU. Photo: DPA

And the winner of the EU single market is...

Germany and Denmark came out as the winners of the European Union's single market in a study released on Monday. Integrating economically with its neighbours has helped the German economy grow an average of €37 billion a year since 1992. READ  

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats
Police check the outside of a synagogue in Wuppertal for evidence of arson on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats

A wave of anti-Semitism in Germany, unleashed by the Gaza crisis, shows no sign of abating. A synagogue was attacked on Tuesday morning, a rabbi received death threats and anti-Jewish comments online have increased. Attacks on mosques have also risen. READ  

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight
Photo: DPA

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight

Top Swiss bank UBS settled a long-running legal dispute with Germany on Tuesday by agreeing to pay a fine of €300 million. Germany suspects UBS of having helped account holders hide millions from the taxman. READ  

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west
Münster was one of the areas worst hit by Monday night's heavy rain. Photo: DPA

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west

UPDATE: A man drowned in his cellar on Monday night as heavy rain battered parts of north-western Germany. A second man died when he tried to drive through a flooded street. The emergency services were in places overwhelmed by hundreds of calls. There are further weather warnings in place for Tuesday. READ  

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions
Merkel has finally lost patience with Putin. Photo: DPA

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions

The EU is set to agree a raft of new wide-ranging sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, after Germany changed its stance on upping the economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis. READ  

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine
Professor Andreas Fath, 49, in training along the Rhine in Baden-Württemberg in June. Photo: DPA

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine

German chemistry professor Andreas Fath started on Monday a gruelling four-week solo swim down the Rhine river for the benefit of science and the environment. READ  

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?
Markus Rehm became German champion on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?

Paralympics gold medallist Markus Rehm triumphed over his non-disabled rivals on Saturday, winning the German long jump championship. But athletics officials are now reviewing whether his prosthetic leg gave him an unfair advantage. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,218
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd