As Greece's euro zone exit looms, euro's home city Frankfurt takes apart sculpture of the currency

Workers dismantle the large Euro sign sculpture for maintenance, in front of the headquarters of the former European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, on July 6, 2015.
Workers dismantle the large Euro sign sculpture for maintenance, in front of the headquarters of the former European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, on July 6, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

FRANKFURT (AFP) - As a possible Greek exit from the euro zone looms ever larger, threatening to change the face of the euro forever, the currency's home city of Frankfurt is giving its famous Euro sculpture a much-needed facelift.

While the euro zone's leaders buckle down for what could be the most decisive talks in the relatively short history of the single currency so far, few will fail to see a certain symbolism in the dismantling and renovation of the 14m, 50-tonne sculpture that has become one of Frankfurt's most photographed landmarks.

The huge neon sign is the work of artist Ottmar Hoerl and was erected at the foot of the then headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt's financial district in 2001.

Last year, the ECB moved into its new, spectacular twin-tower headquarters in the east of the city.

The sculpture shows a blue Euro symbol with 12 yellow stars representing each of the single currency's initial member countries.

Hoerl's cartoonish sculpture, loved and loathed equally by Frankfurt's inhabitants, remains in the green belt of park that girdles the city centre.

It was here, at the foot of the Eurotower headquarters, that the anti-capitalist protest group Occupy camped in a makeshift village of tents for months during 2012, in protest against the perceived greed and corruption of banks.

Time has left its mark on the sculpture, however, and it is looking increasingly worse for wear.

So, the non-profit association Frankfurter Kultur Komitee has decided to completely renovate it for the first time in 13 years at an estimated cost of €60,000 (S$89,480).

The group originally bought the artwork for €350,000.

As part of the renovation, the sculpture will be taken apart and cleaned. Its blue and yellow acrylic glass panels will be replaced.

Its 330 neon light strips will be swapped for energy-saving LED lighting, slashing power consumption by 80 per cent and cutting electricity costs from the current €12,000 per year.

The work is being done by young apprentices from a Frankfurt school and from the city's craftsmen's guild.

The project is being financed with donations, including the ECB itself, the German central bank or Bundesbank, a number of private banks and private individual donors.