Spoof ad puts German president's palace up for rent

Mon Jan 9, 2012 12:30pm EST
 
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BERLIN (Reuters) - A spoof advertisement on one of Germany's leading real estate websites put the Berlin residence of embattled president Christian Wulff up for rent on Sunday -- at a bargain price of one euro per month.

The advert, placed on website www.immoscout.de, played on a series of scandals to hit the German head of state, including allegations he tried to suppress a story in Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild about a favorable home loan he received.

The mystery creators of the advert suggested the picturesque Schloss Bellevue, described as "a property with three wings, in close proximity to the German Chancellery," would soon be vacated by its present tenant.

"The deposit of up to 500,000 Euros can be borrowed from good friends," said the advert, which is no longer on the website.

In mid December Bild reported that Wulff received a home loan in 2008 of 500,000 euros at a cheap rate from the wife of a wealthy businessman friend Egon Geerkens when he was leader of the German state of Lower Saxony.

It then came to light that Wulff left a telephone message on the voicemail of Bild's editor-in-chief, Kai Diekmann, threatening legal action if the paper ran the story.

In a high-profile television interview last week, Wulff admitted he had made a "grave mistake" by leaving the voicemail but said he was only trying to protect his family and was asking for a delay in the story's publication.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdijan, editing by Paul Casciato)

 
<p>People hold up shoes and a placard during a protest demanding German President Christian Wulff resign outside the presidential palace, Bellevue Castle, in Berlin, January 7, 2012. German President Christian Wulff refused earlier this week to approve the publication of a potentially explosive voicemail message he left on the phone of a top newspaper editor, in an escalating scandal that could cost him his job and damage Chancellor Angela Merkel. The placard reads: "This office requires talent: (German comedian) Georg Schramm for president!" REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>