Rumour has it that some rich Russian investors with ties to Ásgeir Þór Davíðsson from the sleazy strip club Goldfinger want to turn The Pearl into a casino. Now, this is really disturbing. We are talking about a Reykjavík monument becoming, of all things, a casino.
Unfortunately there is little to stop this from happening because its owner is Reykjavík Energy, the city’s utility company that owes more than 200 billion ISK to foreign investors. When it became evident this March that the company could not get any of their loans refinanced, the city had to step in with an emergency loan of 12 billion ISK.
Of course that’s hardly enough to rescue the company and there were strings attached. Among them, the city stipulated that Reykjavík Energy sell off all assets not tied to its core business of selling electricity, hot water and cold water to the city. After all, it is a public utility company and you can argue that it really shouldn’t be funding the cost of monuments that don’t turn a profit.
Still, it will be a sad, sad day when The Pearl is no longer a place where Icelanders and tourists can go to enjoy spectacular 360 degree views. It’s too bad the city spent its reserve fund bailing Reykjavík Energy out or else it could probably buy it. Let’s just hope that whoever does buy it doesn’t give it a horribly tacky facelift with Las Vegas style advertisements for the gambling and uncouth activity that might be going on inside.
Now if you’re wondering how a utility company owned by the city managed to rack up a debt over 200 billion ISK, we’re going to cover that in our next issue, after we get through all of this happy ‘Best of Reykjavík’ stuff. It won’t be a ‘Worst of Reykjavík’ issue or anything like that, but it could get pretty bad.