The man who bought Ian Curtis’s house: ‘Joy Division is the modern Rembrandt’

Hadar Goldman stepped in to offer £75,000 above the asking price to buy the Macclesfield house where the singer lived and died

Ian Curtis performing live in Rotterdam in 1980. Photograph: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Last February, after a group of Joy Division fans failed to raise enough money to buy Ian Curtis’s old house in Macclesfield and turn it into a museum, entrepreneur and musician Hadar Goldman decided to step in. The house had already been sold to a private buyer, but Goldman – inspired by the campaign – offered to pay a £75,000 compensation fee on top of the house price of £125,000 in order to secure the purchase. Which certainly sounds committed …

“But it was not only to help,” says Goldman, a Curtis fan himself. “It was also, I imagine, for my personal ego. Some people would pay for a Rembrandt painting; for me, Joy Division is the modern Rembrandt.”

Goldman accepts that the house is not a piece of art in itself, but says that it possesses a “raw energy” that he can now harness for good. He wants it to act not only as a Joy Division museum, but also as a digital hub to support musicians and other artists across the world.

Ian Curtis’s old house in Macclesfield, which will now become a museum. Photograph: Mark Campbell/REX

It’s something that’s caused a bit of conflict among the former members of Joy Division. Peter Hook is supportive of the idea, arguing that Manchester bands don’t get enough credit for their achievements. But Bernard Sumner says he’s worried the house could become a “monument to suicide”, given that Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen. Goldman says he hopes he can change the latter’s mind.

“Years pass. We are left with great art, great music. And super-positive energy,” he says (for someone who claims not to be into new-age theories, he talks an awful lot about energy). “There is nothing spooky about it. I would like to take it to a place where it is like a little sun [for] energy projection.”

Would he open up the kitchen to the public – something fans had originally promised not to do, for fear it would be too macabre.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course! You create demand by forbidding stuff,” he says, adding that he has visited the house and “what happened there in the kitchen … it’s not there, you could not have felt it.”

Goldman was about 15 when Joy Division releasedUnknown Pleasures. He was a classically trained violinist – “one of these gifted boys, I won all the competitions playing all over Europe” – but hearing Joy Division’s music “pulled me to the other side”.

At the moment, Goldman says he’s tied up with the “worst part of the deal”, which means applying for permits from councils and trying to get small projects off the ground, such as putting a blue plaque on the house, which he thinks should be in place within six months. There are plans to install a board of artistic directors, too, and maybe start a fund to support local artists. Had the house retained its original decor, he would have been happy to leave it, but thinks it’s pointless to reinstate it, preferring to honor Ian Curtis’s contemporary instincts by inviting young architects from the University of Manchester to take over the house’s design work: “I’m saying let’s have a dialogue with tomorrow rather than a trip down memory lane.”

Such ideas are a nod to Curtis and the band’s forward-thinking instincts. “Today we call it ‘to think outside of the box’,” says Goldman. “I think Ian Curtis was everything but the box! I don’t think that he had ever met or seen the box!”

Via the Guardian

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