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Strong Interest In ‘Fairy Tale Sale’ of East German Castles

December 29, 1994

BERLIN (AP) _ More than 100 offers have poured in for the ″fairy tale sale″ of 20 German castles - even though some of them are crumbling ruins.

The most surprising offer was to convert one of the castles into a museum on the history of American Indians.

Guenter Himstedt, director of the agency selling properties inherited from the East German Communists, estimated it would take two years to complete the sales and approve proposals. Many of the castles are protected historic monuments that will require millions of dollars in restoration.

Other offers involved plans for hotels, medical clinics, homes for the elderly and handicapped, private schools, riding resorts and toy museums.

Himstedt said there were no serious offers to turn the castles into private residences or golfing resorts, although golf is a booming new sport in eastern Germany.

The sale was marketed abroad, and the strongest foreign interest came from Americans, who made 14 of the 276 offers. Himstedt said more than half the offers were rejected as inappropriate.

Identities of the potential buyers were not made public.

About 90 percent of the offers came from Germans. Other serious foreign interest came from Colombia, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria.

One property turned out to be the ugly ducking of the fairy-tale sale: No acceptable offers came for Schloss Basedow, a castle dating from 1552 in idyllic lake country 75 miles north of Berlin.

Himstedt said the highest bids would not necessarily win.

″A good concept on what to do with the castle or fortress, how it fits into the town and local business, these are important,″ he said.

The cheapest castle - Schloss Wulkow, listed for one mark, or 64 cents, drew brisk interest with 10 serious offers.

But the war-damaged castle near the Polish border will require up to $6.4 million in restorations. And it must mesh with the ″ecological village″ concept for the town of Wulkow, which is strong on solar power, natural crops and environmental tourism.

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