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For the past two years, she has lived in a series of furnished safe houses. She prefers buildings with basement parking, in order to minimize her exposure during the brief transit to a bulletproof car. She bought the car used, for fifteen thousand euros. She also owns two bulletproof vests. She thinks a lot about how she might be assassinated, gaming out fatal scenarios. Whenever she stops at a red light and an unfamiliar vehicle sharks up alongside her, she clutches the wheel, her heart hammering.

Then the light changes, and she exhales and keeps moving. Amsterdam, a city of fewer than a million people, is a difficult place to stage your own disappearance, particularly if you grew up there. Today, she arranges furtive visits with a small circle of friends, but otherwise stays mostly at home.

When she moves through Amsterdam, she does so in secret, and sometimes in disguise: she has a collection of fake noses and teeth. Occasionally, she has posed as a man. Such subterfuge is not conducive to a social life. Holleeder is a vibrant woman who draws energy from having people around her, but she has armored herself. She agreed to testify against the most notorious criminal in the Netherlands, a man known as De Neus—the Nose, a reference to his most prominent facial feature.

This was a risky choice. In , he allegedly asked gang leaders at the prison to enlist members on the outside to execute Holleeder, along with two other witnesses in the case against him. The plot was disrupted when one of the prisoners confessed to officials. But the threat lingers. If she speaks with unusual conviction about what the Nose might do, it is in part because she used to be his legal adviser: until Holleeder went into hiding, she was a successful criminal-defense attorney.

More to the point, she is his younger sister. When Astrid testifies, she sits in an enclosure behind an opaque screen, which guarantees that nobody in the courtroom can see her face, and also insures that she cannot see Wim, who might seek to inhibit her testimony with a menacing glance or a gesture that only she could understand.

Part of the allure is Astrid herself. The book sold half a million copies in a country of seventeen million people. Although Astrid is now a famous author, she has met almost none of her readers. A bookstore signing is out of the question. But the high drama of that choice is what made the book a success, and what attracts so many rubberneckers to the Bunker: the clash of the Holleeders is sibling rivalry distilled to a courtroom duel. Wim is the oldest of four kids, Astrid the youngest.

Sonja and Gerard are the middle siblings. They grew up in the Jordaan, a picturesque district of narrow homes and canals in central Amsterdam.

Today, the Jordaan is full of expensive boutiques, but in the sixties it was a working-class neighborhood. He revered Alfred Freddy Heineken, the potentate who ran the company.

When Astrid was young, the children did their homework with Heineken-logo pens and drank milk from Heineken-logo glasses. So was her father: he was an alcoholic. When Astrid reflects on the circumscribed nature of her current existence, she sometimes recalls her childhood. Wim was a tall and handsome teen-ager, with muscular arms and a Gallic nose.

Like his father, he was temperamental, and the two often clashed; Wim started going out in the evening and coming home very late.

Has Dad gone to bed yet? Did he go crazy again? The police estimated that millions of minor thefts and other violations go unreported every year, because victims conclude that crime is an inevitable nuisance or that the authorities are unlikely to apprehend the perpetrators.

There is also a fair amount of serious crime. According to a Europol report, as much as half the cocaine that enters Europe passes through the port of Rotterdam. He came home occasionally, to visit his siblings and their mother, and often brought along his childhood friend Cornelius van Hout, who went by Cor. Astrid liked him. Astrid and Sonja were close but very different.

Sonja was beautiful, blond, perfectly dressed, and subservient to men. She took this notion half seriously, sometimes wondering when her real family would show up to retrieve her.

Wim mocked her for putting on airs. She learned English, too, and found it comforting to have access to a language that her abusive father could not comprehend. Even today, she finds that slipping into English provides an emotional refuge. As Astrid grew into adulthood, she had a tendency to think in starkly gendered terms: women were victims and men were perpetrators.

I never wore a dress. At seventeen, she left home, turning her back on her father forever. Her plan was to flee the Netherlands by winning a college scholarship abroad. On November 9, , Freddy Heineken was leaving his office in Amsterdam when an orange minivan pulled up beside him.

Several masked men shoved him and his chauffeur into the vehicle at gunpoint. The minivan careered along a bicycle path and headed to a warehouse on the edge of the city.

Heineken and the chauffeur were thrust into a pair of soundproofed cells. Freddy Heineken was a national icon, and the Dutch public was riveted by the story. One night, Astrid and Wim joined them for dinner and watched the news. Three weeks later, the authorities had made no progress in solving the crime. The Heineken family handed a driver five sacks containing the ransom money in four currencies, as the kidnappers had specified.

The driver went to Utrecht, deposited the sacks in a storm drain, and left. The hostages were not released when the money was delivered, but around this time the police received an anonymous tip that led them to the Amsterdam warehouse.

Inside, they found Freddy Heineken and the chauffeur. The captives had been rescued, but the culprits had disappeared, apparently getting away with the crime, and the ransom money. An anonymous informant had provided Dutch authorities with the identities of the kidnappers. The alleged ringleaders were Wim Holleeder and Cor van Hout. The police placed the sisters under arrest. Astrid was seventeen.

Van Gelderen connected me with Astrid, who agreed to see me, but on her terms. One evening, as dusk fell over Amsterdam, a driver picked me up and brought me to a sleek hotel, where we descended to the basement parking lot. I took an elevator to a Japanese restaurant, where I was escorted to a low table in a private room enclosed by shoji screens.

Then a screen slid open and Astrid entered. For a hermit, she is impressively fit. Dressed in black, she greeted me warmly, then commenced a serious perusal of the menu. Then she started speaking about her brother—rapidly and assuredly, in perfect English—with the babbling-brook urgency of a shut-in who is starved for conversation. When the police arrested the Holleeder sisters, Wim and Cor fled to France. The women were released without charges.

The Dutch government initiated an extradition of Wim and Cor, but the process became mired in legal complications, and the men remained in French custody for nearly three years.

Sonja never wavered in her support for Cor, and Stien travelled to France every week to visit Wim in prison. While Wim and Cor were in France, Astrid fell in love with an artist named Jaap Witzenhausen, who was twenty years her senior. He was nothing like the men in her family; he had a mild temperament, and was happy to subordinate himself to Astrid.

He cooked very nicely. He was the total picture. At nineteen, Astrid gave birth to a girl, Miljuschka. How do normal people act? Wim and Cor were finally extradited to the Netherlands in , and sentenced to eleven years in prison. The Dutch public was scandalized when the kidnappers marked the occasion by throwing a decadent party at which a band performed a Heineken jingle.

But roughly a quarter of it—the equivalent, today, of eight million dollars—was never recovered. According to Astrid, Wim and Cor entrusted some of these funds to criminal associates, with instructions to invest in the drug trade.

They went into prison as rich men and came out richer. When Cor was released, he and Sonja settled into a life of gangster splendor, with ostentatious cars and holidays on the Mediterranean. They had another child, a boy, and Cor named him Richie, for its aspirational overtones.

The Heineken family never attempted to recover the balance of the ransom by pursuing legal action against Cor and Wim. De Vries explained to me that Freddy Heineken was traumatized by the kidnapping, and fearful that these criminal entrepreneurs might strike again. Heineken was a rich man who wanted to live in peace. He died in The Heineken family did not respond to a request for comment. The Holleeders suspected that the authorities would begin monitoring them, so they spoke about nothing of consequence in their homes or their cars.


How a Notorious Gangster Was Exposed by His Own Sister

But she was stunned when, in , Willem and his best friend, Cornelius van Hout, were revealed to be the masterminds behind the audacious kidnapping of the beer magnate Alfred Heineken. Although he served some time for the crime, it was only the beginning of the successful career of Holleeder. He became a celebrity criminal; he had a newspaper column, appeared on talk shows, and took selfies with admirers in Amsterdam. He got rich off of his investments in the sex trade and other businesses, but kept them well hidden. She decided to wear a wire and gather the evidence to put him away.


Willem Holleeder

Willem Frederik Holleeder born 29 May is a Dutch criminal. He is nicknamed De Neus The Nose because of the size of his nose. Then, in Holleeder was sentenced to nine years in prison for several counts of extortion, including the extortion of Willem Endstra , who was murdered in [1] after falling out with Holleeder. He was arrested again in May released 12th June , May and April Born in in Amsterdam, Holleeder was the son of Wim Holleeder — , an employee at the Heineken breweries who lost his job because of alcoholism. As a teenager, he, along with his classmate Cor van Hout were part of a gang that worked for landlords in evicting squatters , and may have been involved in several robberies.

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