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Battle over Kaplický’s blob continues

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Future Systems, the winner of the architectural competition for its library design that has come to be known as the octopus or, simply, the blob, is entitled to the money.

The kill fee was determined by the competition organisers, in case the project on Letná would not start within two years of the competition.

Although it’s been two months in March, Future Systems has yet to receive the money. “It is taking a little longer,” says National Library director Pavel Hazuka. “I sent the necessary material to the Culture Ministry before the March deadline. Now we have a new culture minister, and I’ve already told him to expedite the process, so the matter should be settled soon.”

The Culture Ministry is not too eager to pay out the CZK 4 million kill fee. “The competition organiser was the National Library, so it is logical that the money should come from its budget,” says ministry spokesman Jan Cieslar. But the library falls under the competency of the ministry, and in the past the the money for the blob was handed by Václav Jehlička, the former culture minister. In the autumn of 2007, for instance, Jehlička requested CZK 1.7 billion from the state budget for the construction of the octopus.

Cieslar gives another reason why the ministry should not have to pay the blob kill fee: It’s not possible to pay out the money yet because of ownership disputes following Kaplický’s death. But library management says this is a minor obstacle. “During the entire process, Future Systems was our partner, and that continues to be the case to this day. The studio is functioning even after the death of Mr Kaplický, who was co-owner of the company,” says Hazuka.

The ministry has plenty of time for disputes: competition rules set a 10% penalty fee only if the kill fee is delayed by a year or more. Former Culture Minister Vítězslav Jandák offers explanation why the ministry is taking its time to pay out the fee: “I don’t know how they were able to do it, but six months into the year, the ministry’s coffers are empty. That used to not be the case. There used to be enough money even to support various programmes.”

Eliška Kaplicky, the architect’s widow, has not completed yet the process of inheriting Kaplický’s share of Future Systems, and does not know how high her compensation will be. But she is surprised by the proceedings of officials: I don’t know how it’s possible. It’s embarrassing. But I don’t have the strength to do try to resolve it right now. I have enough to worry about as it is.”

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