In the proceedings concerning the lettering on the façade of the Berlin Happy Go Lucky Hotel & Hostel, the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg has reached a verdict: the artwork must be removed.
The judges of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg justified the decision of 31 March 2023 as follows: "With regard to the façade design, there would be blatant contrasts and contradictions in the appearance of the built-up area that would cause persistent protest among a not inconsiderable part of the viewers who are open to design impressions to an average degree."
With this, the three judges from the OVG agreed with the ruling of the Administrative Court of Berlin of 17 June 2020 and the order of the Charlottenburg district authority of 8 June 2016, according to which the artwork by the Irish artist Dom Brown is to be painted over in beige or grey - like the neighbouring houses. The owner of the building, Alexander Skora, had until 8 May 2023 to state whether he wanted to remove the façade painting. Otherwise, the artwork will be removed by a company commissioned by the city of Berlin. The costs for this are to be borne by the owner.
Background to the dispute
The whole thing is preceded by a contentious case from 2016, where building owner Alexander Skora was asked to have the artwork on the Happy Go Lucky Hotel & Hostel removed - only a few weeks after it was painted again. This is because the orange building was painted with individual smileys back in 2012. "Because you could still read the name of the old hotel, we then put our name on in the same size," says Skora. There had already been trouble at that time. The public order office saw the lettering as unauthorised advertising and ordered a redesign.
Skora filed an objection and went to court, but the façade had to be redesigned. The Irish artist then took care of this in 2016 in the form of a colourful work of art. But the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district office also objected to this façade design.
Artwork has new owner
With the current decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg, an appeal against the Administrative Court's ruling is therefore no longer permitted. Now, however, the work of art at Stuttgarter Platz 17 has had a new owner for some time, according to those responsible. The US-American Alan Wolan, CEO of Go Gorilla Media, has acquired all exploitation rights to the façade art by Dom Browne. "Should the artwork owned and held by Alan Wolan be painted over by the district office of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, the latter will take legal action against this and claim damages from the state of Berlin and the executing company - including in American courts in New York and Los Angeles," says Alexander Skora.
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