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UK 32 - 12 MAY 2011

I N T E R N A T I O N A L P A G E 19

Fuck you, Heineken! |_

Biography of nightlife tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra

| b ac kg r o u n d | An estimated net value

ingen nightlife, but all the while I was living in Amsterdam. When I of 130 million euros, a yacht in the wrote something about a bar that turned out to have been closed Mediterranean, a villa in Marbella and three months earlier, they had to let a customized S class Mercedes, Sjoerd me go again…” Kooistra, the single largest proprietor of They both ended up working for bars and clubs in the Netherlands, had it Quote, a financial magazine, where Kooistra often featured in articles. all. The wealthy eccentric enjoyed a life of luxury, male prostitutes, crazy pranks, “I knew Kooistra for about ten years and have written tons of arti­ ongoing lawsuits and financial chaos. cles about him. Not just for Quote, “His suicide might have been a big fuckalso for Het Parool and Nieuwe Re­ vu,” Smits explains. “That’s why we you gesture.” were able to write his biography so By ricHArD KOOTSTrA quickly. Most books take about two years to write, we wrote this one in Journalists Henk Willem Smits and about six months.” “It was a pains­ Joost van Kleef conducted the last taking ordeal,” Van Kleef adds. “I interview Kooistra ever gave, and wasn’t able to go to my favourite bar subsequently wrote the biography very often!” of this very colourful individual. The book is doing well. It’s al­ Their book, entitled De zaak Koois- ready in its third print run. Prob­ tra, was presented last Saturday in ably because of the air of mystery Groningen, with the ‘first’ copy giv­ surrounding the suicide. But also en to Kooistra’s brother. because of the hilarious anecdotes The initial presenta­ provided by Kooistra’s tion of the book was in personal chauffeur. Amsterdam, about two “Bert Lammerts van His weeks ago. “Just for Bueren was a real find,” convenience, because Kleef explains. “No flamboyant van most of the media other journalist had didn’t want to travel all talked to him. I wrote lifestyle the way to Groningen,” him a polite e­mail and comes with a he was willing to talk Van Kleef explains. “But the first copy we about his experiences.” price gave away was actual­ The driver spent more ly the second. We saved time with Kooistra than the real first copy for Klaas, Kooi­ he did with his own wife, result­ stra’s brother.” ing in a wealth of anecdotes such Kooistra’s eccentric demeanour as about Kooistra taking credit for certainly doesn’t run in the fami­ saving someone from a burning car, ly. His brother is stern and sober. throwing banana peels at his driv­ When asked about the frequent run­ er and hiding the chauffeur’s salary ins with his brother, he simply an­ somewhere in the car. swers: “My brother wore red socks, I wore white ones.” A sobering Homosexuality piece of wisdom indeed. The exact opposite of the man who was vot­ Kooistra was never secretive about ed “worst Amsterdam resident” in his homosexuality, as he demon­ 2005, in a landslide victory, ahead strated to a salesman asking about of the Hell’s Angels and local un­ the weight of his wife, in order to find the perfect specifications for derworld figure Willem Holleeder. a bed Kooistra was interested in: “You think I want to share a fuck­ Fired ing bed with a filthy woman?!” Professor Hans Renders, a well­ It turns out he was quite the pro­ known critic and lecturer in jour­ miscuous type, with numerous lov­ nalism at the RUG, interviewed the ers and frequent visits from male two authors as part of the presen­ escort services. All paid for with tation. This is no coincidence, be­ money he borrowed from his own cause Smits and Van Kleef were company. The escort service was both students of his at the same kindly asked to collect thousands time. “We even know each other be­ of euros from one of the bars owned cause of Renders,” Smits explains. by Kooistra. “I was looking for a place to stay But any flamboyant lifestyle comes in Amsterdam, and it was Renders at a price. In the case of Kooistra, who suggested that I should get in that would be around 23 million touch with Joost.” euros, borrowed from his own com­ Being taught by Renders is not the pany. Couple that with a high­pro­ only thing that both authors have in file Heineken lawsuit for not paying common. “We were both freelance his bills and you have your recipe writers for the university newspa­ for suicide. At least according to per UK in Groningen. Joost had al­ Oscar Hammerstein, Kooistra’s at­ ready worked there and got him­ torney. Hammerstein insists that self fired. I was the one that got him the lawsuit finally pushed Kooistra his job back!” Smits says jokingly. over the edge. Van Kleef, however, “Yeah, for about a year,” Van Kleef is not so sure Heineken was the rea­ adds. “Then they fired me again!” son. “Kooistra was a very stubborn They both start to laugh. “I was man. His suicide was probably a fi­ writing a column about the Gron­ nal fuck­you gesture.”

Henk Willem Smits (left) and Joost van Kleef

About Sjoerd Kooistra De Drie Gezusters, de Blauwe Engel – in fact the entire south side of the Grote Markt and numerous other bars in Groningen and across the country as well were owned by one man. That is, until last summer, when he decided to gobble one pill too many in the privacy of his luxurious home. Bar tycoon Sjoerd Kooistra did

not want to live to see the downfall of the financial chaos that was his empire. Kooistra was a combination of Donald Trump and Bernie Madoff: wealthy, eccentric, driven by money and guided by shady business ethics. His suicide left a mark on Dutch nightlife, simply because he was the single largest proprietor of bars and nightclubs in the Netherlands. As a result, many clubs and bars across the country were closed.

Photo Jeroen van Kooten His colourful rags-to-riches story begins in the late seventies, when he started his first bar in Groningen, called Bommen Berend. A savvy entrepreneur, he forged an empire out of buying up and reselling bars – an empire that was founded upon shady business dealings, towering corporate loans and numerous debts. On 27 June 2010, several lawsuits instigated by Heineken got the better of him and he committed suicide.

Profile for

uk 32 - 12 mei 2011 | jaargang 40  

Onafhankelijk weekblad voor de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen; Independend weekly for the Groningen University (Netherlands)

uk 32 - 12 mei 2011 | jaargang 40  

Onafhankelijk weekblad voor de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen; Independend weekly for the Groningen University (Netherlands)