The 300-year old wood, which had been preserved for centuries under the site of the original Prussian palace, was excavated to make way for a modern concrete foundation for the new Humboldt Forum that is to take its place, wrote Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on Friday.
A €559 million reconstruction of the Stadtschloss palace is slated to be rebuilt in central Berlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the city. Though its exterior will look like the old palace, the interior will be modern and house some of the city’s museums as the Humboldt Forum.
The reconstructed facade of the new Humboldt Forum alone will cost €80 million to build, just €23 million of which has so far been raised from private donations.
The original Baroque palace, a winter residence for Prussian royalty, was damaged during World War II and then demolished by the communist East German government in 1950.
Mired for years in financial problems, the reconstruction project’s fund raisers could have sold the recently excavated wood to private individuals, suggested the paper, who would pay high prices for furniture or flooring made from original wood which once formed part of the Hohenzollern residence.
“The wood is in excellent condition,” a spokesman from the Züblin Spezialtiefbau contracted with the excavation job told the paper.
But it does not belong to the palace patrons, or to the site’s legal owners, the Humboldt Forum Institute, but to the Züblin building contractors.
“The wood passes automatically into the possession of the firm which is entrusted with the ground and excavation work,” Manfred Rettig, head of the Berlin Palace Foundation told the paper.
Züblin, apparently concerned only with removing the wood from the site, has in turn passed it on to a recycling firm “RWG 1 Baustoffrecycling” in Spandau, north of Berlin. “The wood belongs to us,” a spokesman for the recycling firm told the paper.
He added that several private individuals have already phoned to express interest in the historic material.
Wilhelm von Boddien, head patron and fund raiser for the Humboldt Forum project told the paper he was also interested, but he would have to pay if he wants to use the wood in the reconstruction, raising the authenticity of the controversial and expensive endeavour.