The German ‘Puzzle King’ who was missing the very last piece to complete a 54,000-piece jigsaw – said to be the world’s largest commercially sold puzzle – has finally hit his target after the manufacturer sent him the remaining piece.
Peter Schubert, 52, from Hallerndorf, a municipality in the Upper Franconian district of Forchheim in the southern German state of Bavaria, said that the missing piece from the 18-square-metre puzzle had arrived and is already firmly in place.
The enthusiast, who considers himself a true puzzle devotee and a very patient man, something that according to him is essential when solving puzzles with thousands of pieces, could not believe his dream became true.
When asked how he felt after seeing the completed puzzle, he said: ‘It feels good. Really good! I feel like I could give everyone a giant hug.
‘I still cannot believe what’s happening. It is indescribable! A couple of weeks ago I was sitting all puzzled, confused and working on the jigsaw night and day.’
He is thrilled by all the public attention he has received lately thanks to news articles in the international media, confessing that he really enjoys it.
Schubert explained how his fascination with puzzles began 17 years ago when he came across a multi-thousand-piece puzzle in a bookstore: ‘I saw something that would go on to take my whole life in a completely new direction. A 20,000-piece jigsaw in a huge box.’
Despite his initial internal dilemmas on whether to buy the 6-square-metre puzzle (64-square-foot) he was tempted by the idea of solving it and returned to the book store the next morning to buy it.
He laughed: ‘Even today I can still hear the laughter of the saleswoman who said ‘finally it is gone and now we have more space on the shelf again’.’
Schubert admitted he struggled with the puzzle, the largest one on the market back then, explaining: ‘The frame alone had over 3,000 identical pieces in uniform beige.’
His jigsaw portfolio includes about 60 puzzles, including 3D, holographic (two puzzles in one) and miniature jigsaws. His collection of ‘conquered’ puzzles ranges from 18,000-piece ones to the one he has just finished, Grafika’s ‘Travel Around Art’, a 54,000-piece jigsaw.
Grafika, the company behind the 54,000-piece jigsaw was established in 2013 in France, and their 6,000-square-metre (64,583-square-foot) production warehouse is located on the border between France and Germany to ensure low EU delivery costs. Ever since its inception, the company has had a turnover of EUR 11 Million for 30 employees.
The ‘Travel Around Art’ jigsaw is delivered to 26 countries around the world and it is also available for sale in the US, Canada and the UK. The manufacturer says it is the largest commercially sold puzzle in the world.
Eric Lathiere-Lavergne, the CEO of Grafika, said that they are ‘keen to conserve their record’ of making the largest commercially sold puzzles in the world and plan to release a new puzzle that is even bigger in ‘less than three months’.
Lathiere-Lavergne said that this ‘record is the pride and joy of our team, of our Grafika brand, and of our company’.
The ‘Travel Around Art’ puzzle is priced at EUR 499 in Germany and GBP 447.99 in the UK.
Peter Schubert said the puzzle was quite the challenge and added it took him four and a half months to complete it. He said: ‘I started by completing 10 individual 1,000-piece parts of the overall puzzle and, like an athlete, trained my stamina, my eye for detail, and I made a plan for how I wanted to proceed.’
However, after solving the puzzle he was shocked to discover there was one piece missing. He even checked the vacuum cleaner hoping to find it inside.
He was finally left with no other option but to contact the manufacturer to send him the missing piece.
Now that he has finally accomplished his goal, he likes to focus on the future and possible business perspectives emerging from his hobby.
He said most people laughed when he discussed his vision of getting a career in the puzzle world and making a living through jigsaws, adding: ‘It is still such a great personal dream of mine. For about 15 years, I had an idea in my head that I can also earn money with my hobby.
‘Then I was lucky enough to have two of my giant puzzles on display in department stores with the help of an advertising agency in order to obtain possible customers and at least I had proof it worked.’
He explained he partially managed to fulfil his ambitions, but unfortunately the advertising agency that he used to collaborate with closed its office. Despite efforts to find a new one, nobody has answered to his requests or calls.
The ‘Puzzle King’, as he has been dubbed in Germany, works as a professional fitter in home decoration and construction and has a personal record of spending a whopping 15.5 hours on a puzzle in one day.
He stated that being single and having gone through a divorce 12 years ago helps him when it comes to organising a schedule for solving a puzzle: ‘I invest 4 to 5 hours a day before and after my shift on weekdays and I usually take a day during the weekend where I spend 14 hours on the puzzle.’
Schubert believes his life took a different turn when he started solving puzzles and a lot of positive effects on his health and life have emerged from his hobby.
He said that now he has finally received the missing piece and filled out the blank space in his 54,000-piece jigsaw, he is waiting for the Record Institute of Germany’s (RID) answer regarding his application.
Peter said: ‘I have thought about applying for the Guinness record as soon as I get a message from the RID if they see my project as a record. Then the application would go straight to Guinness World Records. It is a bit frustrating that I have not yet received an answer from the Record Institute of Germany.’
After he finishes solving a puzzle, Schubert usually tries to display them somewhere for all to see. He is looking forward to showing off the 54,000-piece puzzle, as well as all his other puzzles, in a large gym soon.