Lucerne Festival wins opera house case in Bermuda court

Lucerne Festival wins opera house case in Bermuda court


norman lebrecht

February 21, 2014

A court in Bermuda has ruled that the Lucerne Festival has a right to inherit SFr 120 million ($137m) earmarked for an opera house by its late patron, Christof Engelhorn. The will was contested by Engelhorn’s heirs. Their defeat appears to be decisive, subject to appeal. Here’s a summary of events so far. And here’s the victory roll from Lucerne:

Media Release


salle modulable lucerne



Salle Modulable Foundation wins its case: withdrawal of

funds was unlawful


Lucerne/Hamilton, 21 February 2014 – The judge of the competent court in Bermuda has ruled that the withdrawal of funding for the Salle Modulable in Lucerne took place unlawfully and that Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Limited must fulfil its obligations.


The Salle Modulable Foundation has won its case before the Supreme Court of Bermuda: the withdrawal of funding for the Salle Modulable by Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd. (Butterfield) in October 2010 has been ruled unlawful. The presiding judge has found that a contract of donation governed by Swiss law was entered into in the summer of 2007 and that Butterfield must meet its obligations arising from it. If the Salle Modulable Foundation submits a feasibility study, adapted to the new circumstances, for a venue with flexible arrangements for experimental music theatre in the City of Lucerne, Butterfield is bound to honour the promise of finance it originally made in the amount of up to CHF 120 million. The feasibility study will be updated and adapted as part of the New Theatre Infrastructure Lucerne (NTI) Project.


Butterfield’s counter-claim was rejected in its entirety. The judge has not yet made any final pronouncement on other questions. This will entail a further hearing. The judgment may yet be referred to the Bermuda Appeal Court.


Hubert Achermann, Chairman of the Salle Modulable Foundation, says: “Naturally we are very pleased with the outcome and believe that justice has been done. Our expense and effort have paid off, and I thank everyone who has supported us in these lengthy proceedings. Still, we remain far from our objective. First, we expect the opposing party to accept this judgment and desist from further time-consuming and costly legal proceedings.

Then we have to produce an updated and authoritative feasibility study, in co-operation with the Canton and City. For this purpose, we can build on the work done so far. We have a fine opportunity to create something unique for Lucerne, as the City of Culture and Festivals, and for its institutions, not least in memory of the great patron, Christof Engelhorn.“



  • david says:

    if the new place is half as good as the other glorious concert hall in Lucerne, the KKL, I think we should all move there fast. Extremely good news for Lucerne and musicians the world over..