Rolling Stones Tickets Freebies Spark Investigation In Germany

The district office that cleared the Rolling Stones concert on Sept. 9 in Hamburg’s Stadtpark received 100 free concert tickets from German concert promoter FKP Scorpio – an endowment that may cause legal trouble.  

The Rolling Stones
AP Photo / Michael Euler
– The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger struts his stuff when The Rolling Stones play U Arena in Nanterre, France, Oct. 22.

Germany has strict regulations on the types of gifts civil servants are allowed to accept. Apart from pencils and notepads there aren’t many things they can take with a clear conscience. So when word got out that a number of public officials were given Rolling Stones tickets worth around euro 10,000 in total, the backlash was inevitable.

Hamburg’s DA’s office has launched an investigation into the matter. Since neither FKP Scorpio nor the responsible district office in Hamburg were allowed to comment on an ongoing investigation, Pollstar’s requests were declined.

However, Pollstar obtained the documents of two information requests by two different parties submitted to and answered by the district office.

On May 17, the district office had sent an email to employees, informing them about the 100 free tickets for the Rolling Stones gig, provided by FKP Scorpio. An additional allotment of tickets was available for purchase.

According to Harald Rösler, head of the district office, the tickets went to local top-ranking politicians as well as 25 office employees and their partners. Rösler pointed out that the office employees had surpassed themselves, working after-hours without getting paid for it, to organize and facilitate what he describes as “the biggest concert event in Hamburg thus far.”

81,193 people saw the Sept. 9 Rolling Stones concert, which kicked off the band’s No Filter European tour. The show grossed $11,954,298, the highest single-concert value of the whole tour, according to Pollstar’s box office figures.

Punters reportedly paid up to euro 800 for a ticket on the secondary market, which is one reason why German media leaped at the story once it became clear that certain people – civil servants at that – were given the precious items for free.

According to Hamburger Morgenpost, the district office had never cleared a comparable event in the city’s Stadtpark before, implying that the free tickets may have helped.

However, a FKP Scorpio rep told German news outlet Der Spiegel, before Hamburg’s DA’s office had launched its investigation, that it was “unrealistic” to assume the authorization process could be influenced by offering free tickets. The spokesperson lauded the “good and very complex cooperation” with the district office and added that FKP didn’t mind if the recipients of the tickets had understood them to be a thank-you gesture.

The district office emphasized that it was only offered the tickets after it had authorized the Rolling Stones concert in Hamburg’s Stadtpark.