February 28, 2021

Livinio Stuyck: The 'luxury squat' of the Royal Tapestry Factory throws in the towel | Economy


Luxury duplex five minutes walk from the most emblematic park of Madrid. Incalculable historical value. To reform. And uninhabited for a few weeks. That is the description that could be made of the building where he has lived during almost all of his 77 years of life Livinio Stuyck, last director of the Royal Tapestry Factory as patriarch of a family that has dominated this art in Spain since the 18th century.

Livinio Stuyck lived all his life in that house but for two years it was considered a squat. In 2017, after years in a legal limbo and 15 after ceasing to be director of the Tapestry Factory, started a judicial litigation that still lasts. But Livinio and his wife have thrown in the towel and left the house. The conflict, both parties agree, may end soon with the handing over of the keys. The National Court sentenced that he could not use the house and confirmed the fines of several hundred thousand euros that the Administration put him to force him to leave.

Clinging to a century-old tradition

The Stuyck have occupied this house for more than a century. The famous flamenco craftsman Jacobo Vandergoten settled in Spain in 1720 at the request of Felipe V. Since then his family, which two generations later went on to have his main surname Stuyck, managed the Royal Tapestry Factory. When in 1889 its location was changed, in the center of Madrid, to a more peripheral area near the Retiro, a contract was already signed in which it was made clear that the building was public but all its content (looms, machinery and other furniture) belonged to the family, as was the norm until then.

Livinio Stuyck, in 1996 when he was director of the Royal Tapestry Factory, poses before a carpet weaving loom


Livinio Stuyck, in 1996 when he was director of the Royal Tapestry Factory, poses before a carpet weaving loom Efe

In 1952, a new contract signed by Gabino Stuyck, father of Livinio, and Patrimonio Nacional annulled the previous one but left the situation basically the same: the agreement included the possibility, according to what was also a hundred-year-old custom, that the director of the factory I lived there with his family. Everything seemed arranged so that the Gabinos and the Livinios (the two names that the first-born of each generation of Stuyck alternate) followed in the factory long time.

When his father died in 1975, Livinio inherited the position and also the manor house, which occupies the first and second floors of the main facade of the Royal Tapestry Factory, whose main activity today is that of a museum, at number 2 of the Calle Fuenterrabía in Madrid. But making tapestries was becoming less profitable and in 1996 the company accumulated debts and had not paid for months To him eployees. So Esperanza Aguirre, then Minister of Culture, approved a public rescue of 300 million pesetas (1.8 million euros) for which the Royal Tapestry Factory became public property. For this purpose, a foundation was created -of whose patronage the Ministry of Culture, the Community of Madrid and the City Council of the capital- are part of, which was followed by Livinio until 2002, when it was ceased.

Despite this, Livinio and his family continued to live in the factory as their ancestors had done for three centuries.

And so, according to the custom, things continued until 2016, when the board began to be interested in the situation of that property whose tenants were crossing the entrance of a public building to enter or leave. When the Royal Tapestry Factory closed, they called the security personnel, who opened them. You can still make the route that leads to the house, hidden by a glass door to the left of the museum reception. Behind it, there appears a stately wooden staircase with a large square vain in the center. The corner of the landing of the ground floor has been used to install the monitors of the security control of the building. To find the Stuyck house, you have to go up. Right now there is only a double white door, and next to it a sign of a well known alarm signature. Behind, says the director of the Royal Tapestry Factory, Alejandro Klecker, no one lives.

The keys are still in Stuyck's possession

"Apparently no one lives," say sources from the Ministry of Culture. Livinio is still a peculiar squat, since he has not formally vacated the house, because he has not delivered the keys. In the different occasions in which a date has been put so that it delivers them, they count in Culture, nobody appeared.

The version given by the family is radically different. They ensure that they are willing to comply with judicial decisions despite appeals before the Supreme Court. Last December the National Court gave the reason to the Administration to determine that the two requirements for which the Stuyck mainly lived in the house were no longer fulfilled. One was to run the factory. The second was the 1952 contract, which is no longer in force, since it determined a maximum duration of 30 years. It expired therefore in 1982.

The furniture, in a storage room

"We ask you to hand over the keys on April 1 to get our things out," Diego Stuyck, Livinio's son, tells the telephone. Patrimonio denied it and that is why they were not given. Now that the furniture has been taken "to a storage room", they have asked to see each other to hand over the keys and end up with a situation that it describes as emotionally painful. "It hurts to be called squat when your family has been in a place for hundreds of years," says Diego, who lives in Romania for work.

Livinio and his wife, the third of their four children, left the house in May and are in a family home in Galicia to escape from the situation. Despite the agreement and the "cordial relationship" with the foundation, the spokesman of the Stuyck confirms that they will keep the appeal in the Supreme Court.

To find another fault against, the Stuyck would not only lose the house. To avoid resorting to eviction by force, the State imposed a series of coercive fines. According to Culture they have already ten since September 2017, at a rate of about 41,000 euros each. The first confirmatory sentence arrived recently, as it advanced Five days. In the coming months it is expected that the rest will suffer the same fate, which is why the litigation will continue.

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