Nuremberg contractor Gerd Schmelzer (70, from left to right), Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (55, CSU) and Nuremberg's Lord Mayor Ulrich Maly (61, SPD) at the topping-out ceremony for the Augustinerhof.

Nepotism? Court of Auditors questions lease for future museum

Nuremberg – In the dispute over the financing of the Nuremberg Future Museum, a branch of the Deutsches Museum in Munichthe Bavarian Supreme Court of Auditors (ORH) has raised serious doubts about the state government’s actions in a preliminary audit report.

Nuremberg contractor Gerd Schmelzer (70, from left to right), Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (55, CSU) and Nuremberg’s Lord Mayor Ulrich Maly (61, SPD) at the topping-out ceremony for the Augustinerhof. © Daniel Karmann/dpa

In the paper, which is available to the German Press Agency, the Court of Auditors denounces, for example, that the project promoted by the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of the then Minister and current Prime Minister Markus Söder (55, CSU) in the years from 2014 was not in good time with the Ministry of Finance Science and art have been coordinated.

The Court of Auditors had already complained last week that the rental agreement with the company owned by Nuremberg investor Gerd Schmelzer (70) was “landlord-friendly” overall. The risks are spread unilaterally.

According to the Court of Auditors, the detailed, preliminary version of the audit report has now been sent to the state parliament’s budget committee.

Insufficient evidence: Investigations against Jesuit priests stopped because of containers
Bavaria
Insufficient evidence: Investigations against Jesuit priests stopped because of containers

Finance Minister Albert Füracker (54, CSU) declined to comment on Friday and referred to the Ministry of Science.

When asked by dpa, the latter explained that the Deutsches Museum, as a legally independent institution, made or conducted the decision on the location and the lease negotiations itself. The ministry as a legal supervisor was involved at an early stage by the finance ministry, the department in charge of homeland strategy.

Schmelzer defends himself: “It has no connection with any construction projects”

The Future Museum is the Nuremberg branch of the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

The Future Museum is the Nuremberg branch of the Deutsches Museum in Munich. © Daniel Karmann/dpa

The Ministry of Science accused the Court of Auditors of possibly misjudging the complexity of a rental agreement for a special property required for a museum of the future.

“You can’t look at such a property with off-the-shelf valuation concepts, as the ORH likes to do,” says the ministry’s statement. The great success of the Deutsches Museum Nürnberg since its opening in autumn 2021 underlines the quality of the museum concept as well as the correctness of the central location.

The more detailed ORH paper, which is still provisional, now says, for example, that the Ministry of Finance has also pushed the Augustinerhof location – that is, Schmelzer’s property. According to the Court of Auditors, the Deutsches Museum, as the actual negotiating partner, initially favored another property in the southern part of Nuremberg.

Protest by bus companies in Bavaria: immediate aid promised over 1 million euros
Bavaria
Protest by bus companies in Bavaria: immediate aid promised over 1 million euros

Schmelzer is a CSU party donor. “I donate from time to time, but that has no connection with any construction projects,” he explained to the “Nürnberger Nachrichten” in an interview. Schmelzer initially did not respond to a query from the dpa to his company about the latest status.

ORH assumes a cost of 200 million euros for the taxpayer

Albert Füracker (54, CSU) is Finance Minister of Bavaria.

Albert Füracker (54, CSU) is Finance Minister of Bavaria. © Sven Hoppe/dpa

The ORH report states literally: “In the search for a suitable property for the German Museum Nuremberg, no open market investigation process was used.”

And further: “The Deutsches Museum committed itself to the Augustinerhof location at an early stage, although the necessary replanning and the resulting follow-up costs were not known.”

According to the ORH report, a note from Söder’s then ministerial office in the finance department says: “Please move the matter forward quickly. Augustinerhof would be the solution.”

According to the ORH report, the realization and ongoing operating costs almost doubled due to the decision made a short time later to expand the space to be rented. According to the ORH, the expansion was driven by a discussion between the Ministry of Finance and the landlord.

In the meantime, the ORH is assuming costs of 200 million euros for the taxpayer for the “extremely long” contract period of 25 years. According to the ORH, there are doubts about a statement by the Ministry of Finance in the course of the examination procedure that it stayed out after the first contact and left the negotiations to the museum.

“The landlord didn’t have to speculate at all – he is an old acquaintance of Markus Söder”

Ludwig Hartmann (43) is the Bavarian parliamentary group leader of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen.

Ludwig Hartmann (43) is the Bavarian parliamentary group leader of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. © Sven Hoppe/dpa-pool/dpa

The opposition in the Bavarian state parliament had already expressed serious doubts about the actions of the Bavarian state government a year ago and had commissioned corresponding reports.

These had come to similar conclusions as the ORH test report in essential elements. Since then, several media have repeatedly reported on the allegations.

The parliamentary group leader of the Greens in the state parliament, Ludwig Hartmann (43), sharply criticized the state government for its handling of the future museum. “There are real estate moguls who achieve absurd returns with speculation. The landlord of the Nuremberg Future Museum didn’t have to speculate at all – he is an old acquaintance of Markus Söder,” said Hartmann.

“The very advantageous contract for the landlord clearly shows that the interests of the public sector and taxpayers come last with Markus Söder.”

Cover photo: Daniel Karmann/dpa

More about Bavaria:

Leave a Reply