Bonn · The art installation of the small Beethoven statues on the Münsterplatz in Bonn became world famous. But although customers already paid for their statues, they have had to wait a long time for them.
The pictures of Beethoven's smiling plastic army on the Münsterplatz in Bonn went around the world. But not only were snapshots of Ottmar Hörl's art installation suddenly in demand, but also the figures themselves. More than 3300 orders were received by the association Bürger für Beethoven and the Bonn City Marketing. One year later, however, the mood among some Bonn residents is clouded: They have been waiting for months for their figurines, which they have already paid for in advance. They were consoled several times.
Christoph Schada has given vent to his anger, albeit with "a little teasing", as he says himself, on Facebook. "I can get stamps, but I still don't have my Ludwig," he wrote in mid-May. In June last year he had ordered the golden Beethoven. "There were two e-mails in which the delivery date was postponed by three months in each case," Schada says. The reason, he said, was that the producer could not work any faster and only 20 figures were available per week. He understands that – but it's still annoying because they have already paid.
"We were surprised by the demand"
Stephan Eisel, managing director of the Bürger für Beethoven, has already received several complaints. "But most of them were very understanding," he says. In addition, they had offered to pay back the money at any time, but hardly anyone had made use of this option. "We were surprised by the demand," Eisel says. When the exhibition was running on Münsterplatz, you could still order little Beethoven for 300 Euro. After that, City Marketing took over the handling. From then on, the figures cost 50 Euro more, but orders still shot up. The income, almost one million Euro, was shared between the two associations, Ottmar Hörl and his producer.
In Bonn, this will pay about 70,000 Euro towards the art installation, among other things, and there is no final invoice yet. Hörl will be paid step by step when the figures are delivered, but according to Eisel, the money will remain in an account owned by the city marketing team who has been hired by an accountant. "We couldn't have done the campaign without this income," Eisel says. That is why the art installation was only commissioned when the 500 „godparents“ for the first Beethoven figures were found in the course of 2018.
Nobody in Bonn had expected that everything would take so long. Originally, the plan was to be finished by Christmas. "But there were always minor delays," Eisel says. Sometimes a mould broke, then company holidays got in the way. Most recently, the Corona crisis had made it impossible to deliver between March and May.
Producer can not make more than 60 figures per week
For Hörl, however, the long delivery times were already clear when he saw the many orders, which he said he had pointed out immediately. "At first, everyone in Bonn was afraid that they would be left with the costs," he says. The 500 statues were sold quickly, so he increased the number to 770. Hörl had said from the beginning that his producer could only make about 60 statues per week. So even then it would have taken just under ten months from June onwards to process all the 2500 or so new orders. "Looking back, we were even lucky," he says. Because during this time, contrary to Eisel's description, the mould, which was only designed for 1000 figures, did not break once, which would have meant weeks of downtime.
"I'm sorry about that. I'd rather that everything was finished," says Hörl. Because the trouble would also show a bad image of the artist. "But it must also be said that we were completely surprised by the success. There's never been a project in my life that has produced such large and expensive figures in such numbers." And that shows how much the people of Bonn would identify with Beethoven. "That's rare," he complimented. He would have preferred to have another company do the production. But the procedure is so complex and unique that in Europe it is only used in Coburg. When asked by the GA, an employee of the small medium-sized company says that they "do everything they can", but that they also have other orders.
All figures are to be delivered by mid-June
According to Eisel, all the figures are to be issued by mid-June. Schada received his Beethoven last week. He also posted this on Facebook, in the picture he is posing proudly with the small, golden Beethoven in front of the big statue on Münsterplatz.
Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach. Translation: Mareike Graepel