• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Art icon Tacheles shrinks after €1-million payout

David Wroe · 5 Apr 2011, 17:29

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

“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)

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
Pegida take to Dresden streets - to march against Pegida
Pegida demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Followers of the xenophobic Pegida movement marched in two factions on Monday evening in the capital of Saxony, brandishing fierce accusations of treason against one another.

Analysis
Is it fair to call the AfD far right?
AfD leaders, from left, Georg Pazderski, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA.

The AfD has been dubbed "far-right" over the past year as it has taken on a tougher stance against immigration and made gains in state elections. But at what point does one call a group far-right?

Dresden police guard Islamic buildings after mosque attack
The Dresden mosque that was hit by a homemade bomb attack on Monday. Photo: DPA.

All Islamic buildings in the capital of Saxony have been put under police protection on Tuesday after explosive devices were detonated at a mosque and a congress centre in the city.

Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
Photo: DPA

German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns.

Stuttgart fest pulls in twice as many boozers as Oktoberfest
Is this Oktoberfest or is this Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest? Can you tell the difference? Well, it's Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Apparently Munich is no longer the top place to wear lederhosen and down beer one litre at a time.

The Local List
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Photo: DPA

These films are so good, not even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari made the list.

Young man destroys 17 cars after visiting Oktoberfest

Early on Monday morning a drunk 29-year-old trashed 17 cars after staggering out of Oktoberfest into the Munich streets. It was one of several eye-popping crimes from "Wiesn" over the past few days.

VW emissions scandal
Audi tech chief leaves after reports link him to 'dieselgate'
Audi's head of technical development Stefan Knirsch stepped down on Monday. Photo: DPA.

Audi's head of technical development stepped down "with immediate effect" on Monday, the luxury carmaker announced, after German media accused him of involvement in parent company Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal.

Deutsche Bank shares hit lowest level in quarter century
Photo: DPA.

Shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, sank to a historic low on Monday after reports at the weekend that Berlin had refused state aid for the embattled lender.

The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,621
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd