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Amsterdam real estate tycoon Maup Caransa dead at 93

Amsterdam, Aug. 8, 2009 — Amsterdam real estate tycoon Maurits ‘Maup’ Caransa died Thursday night at 93 years of age.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf says his riches fueled the imagination of many. For many years the name Caransa was, to the Dutch, virtually synonymous for millionair.


In October 1977 Caransa became the first well-known Dutch man to be kidnapped for ransom. He was released five days later after paying 10 million Guilders ($6.4 million; €4.5 million).

Caransa himself negotiated the amount with his captors, who had initially demanded 40 million Guilders. His openings bid was 300.000 Guilders. On the last day the kidnappers quarreled among each other and then said they wanted the full 40 million they initially had demanded. “Now I give up,” Caransa told the kidnappers. “Just go ahead and shoot me.”

None of the kidnappers have been found, but half a million Guilders of the ransom money was recovered when a member of the Italian mafia tried to exchange it an American bank. The man never explained how he got the money.

After his release Caransa left the public spotlight, long shunning the media. “All that publicity cost me ten million Guilders,” he said at the time.

Self-made millionaire

Born in 1916 as the son of a coal merchant, Caransa became a self-made millionair after the Second World War — first by dealing in oil, cars, and discarded British and U.S. army material, and then by investing the money in ‘bricks.’

At a time when real estate was still relatively inexpensive he concentrated on buying properties, mainly in Amsterdam. Caransa bought properties in the Kalverstraat, and around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. He bought the Doelen Hotel, the American Hotel, Hotel Schiller and the prestigious Amstel Hotel. At Rembrandtplein he also built the Caransa Hotel. While he owned much of the properties surrounding Rembrandtplain he did not buy everything. “I don’t want to be a despot,” he said.

An acquaintance once said about Caransa, “With him copper turns into gold; luck follows him.” Caransa himself credited hard work (‘always a few hours longer than others’), faith in yourself, and disciple, Amsterdam daily Het Parool writes, quoting Caransa as saying, “Every business is a military operation, and I am the General.”

From a bed in the cupboard to the Doelen Hotel

As a young boy Caransa experienced poverty at home. Sometimes his mother told him he was welcome to play outside till 8pm, which he understood to mean there was no dinner that evening.

He slept in a bedstee — a bed built into a cupboard. Whenever he couldn’t sleep, his mother told him, “Well, then go and sleep in De Doelen.” The Doelen Hotel was the ultimate, unreachable luxury. When he later bought the hotel het thought, not bad for a boy who came from a bedstee, Het Parool writes.

In 2008, Caransa was ranked 186 in the Quote-500 — a list of the 500 richest Dutch people — with his personal wealth estimated at € 161 million ($228 million).

M. Caransa B.V., the business enterprise established by Caransa in 1950, has for the past twenty years been operated by his grandchildern Maurits and Solomon. — DutchAmsterdam.nl

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