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Granny fills in €80,000 artwork thinking it’s a crossword

The Neues Museum in Nuremberg had a bit of a disaster on Wednesday when a pensioner read the caption “Insert Words” on what she believed to be a crossword puzzle.

Granny fills in €80,000 artwork thinking it's a crossword
Nuremberg's Neues Museum. Photo: DPA.

Titled “Reading-work-piece”, the 1965 artwork by Arthur Köpcke is, or was, an excerpt of an unfinished crossword with the caption “Insert Words”, Die Welt reports.

Hannelore K. was visiting Nuremberg’s Neues Museum on Wednesday with her seniors group.

According to a spokesperson for the museum, the retired dentist filled out some of the empty boxes in pen.

Nürnberger Nachrichten reports that one of the questions on the ‘crossword’ asked the English word for Mauer (wall). 

Knowing the answer, the old woman whipped out her pen and wrote it down, simply following instructions.

“If it’s written there, I’ll do it,” the pensioner reportedly said.

She is also said to have spelt out a few more clues, but the museum has not revealed these details, and the extent of the 91-year-old’s general knowledge remains unknown.

When the museum staff realised what she had done they brought her straight to the museum's curator.

Police were then called to the scene but the perpetrator was not treated badly.

“The woman definitely had no ill intent,” said curator Eva Kraus. “But we had to report the damage.”

No permanent harm was done by the old lady in the end, and restoration artists are already working on removing the pen marks from the piece.

The painting was insured for €80,000 but the old lady can rest easy – the museum will cover the repair expenses of a few hundred euros.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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