World-famous Berlin street art blacked out

Twitter users in the capital's Kreuzberg district reported that men arrived with cranes and spotlights on Thursday night to paint over two of the capital's most famous street art pieces.

World-famous Berlin street art blacked out
Bailiffs clearing the Cuvry Brache site after a fire in September. Photo: DPA

Two building-sized paintings by Italian street artist BLU looking over the riverside lot, which was until recently occupied by squatters, depicted a man wearing two gold watches linked together like handcuffs and two figures pulling masks off one another.

The squatters had been evicted in September after property developer Artur Süsskind bought the site, where he plans to build 250 apartments, a supermarket and a kindergarten.

People tweeting from the scene reported that the workers on the site said they were "modifying" the art piece.

"It is not the city of Berlin doing that, nor is it the real estate developers who want to build a new residential complex at this empty spot", one activist wrote in a blog post.

"In fact, it is being done by the people related to BLU … with his consent."

But far from the action being a bold statement against gentrification by denying the developer a chance to profit from the artwork, blogger Dmitry Paranyushkin calls it "a f**k you toward the city, toward the real estate company, but most of all – to all the people that love this artwork and everything it's come to represent."


"Their way of reclaiming Berlin is actually accepting their own loss", he adds. "If that is a statement, it is a statement of total despair, pessimistic and negative at its core, devoid of any faith, belief and hope."

And he points out that by destroying the artwork, those responsible have taken away something local people were fighting to preserve.

A petition on to accord the murals protected status had received over 7,500 signatures before they were painted over.

SEE ALSO: Berlin squat ripped apart by fire

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‘Berlin is dying’: Protests as police clear one of capital’s few remaining squats

Police cleared one of Berlin's last squats on Friday, as a symbol of the German capital's free-spirited ideals faces the reality of soaring rents and gentrification.

'Berlin is dying': Protests as police clear one of capital's few remaining squats
Berlin police cleared the Liebig34 squat on Friday. Photo: DPA

Berlin mobilised hundreds of law enforcement officials to evict residents of the “Liebig34” site in Friedrichshain, a hip part of former East Berlin where property prices have risen sharply.

But far from the street battles feared by Berlin authorities, the evictions were relatively peaceful.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, blocks of abandoned houses in the east of the capital were taken over by students, young people, artists and activists. Some of the squats were subsequently legalised as housing projects.

The self-described “anarchist-queer-feminist” building on the corner of Liebigstrasse, with a facade covered with graffiti and banners, has been offering shelter to about 40 women, trans and intersex people since 1999.

A bar and a self-managed cultural centre helped the collective to raise part of the money needed to pay the rent.

READ ALSO: In graphs: How gentrification has changed Berlin

But investor Gijora Padovicz, who owns the building, decided in 2018 not to renew the lease for Liebig34.

Faced with the residents' refusal to leave their homes, he filed a lawsuit, which he won, culminating in Friday's eviction.

Police removed residents one by one from the four-storey building, an emblem of Berlin's fading “poor but sexy” image, the marketing slogan of the city's former mayor Klaus Wowereit.

Protesting against the police action, Anna Mai, whistle in hand on the edge of the police cordon, said Liebig34 was “a symbol of the diversity of this city which shouldn't only belong to the rich. Berlin is dying”.

“It goes against human rights to throw people out on to the street in the middle of a pandemic, when they cannot pay their rent,” Moritz Heusinger, lawyer for the Liebig34 collective, told AFP.

“They are becoming homeless.”