Maup Caransa

Maup Caransa, after being released by his kidnappers (1977)

Maurits "Maup" Caransa (5 January 1916 6 August 2009) was a Dutch businessman who became one of the most important real-estate developers in post-World War II Amsterdam. Caransa was the first well-known Dutch person to be kidnapped for ransom. Caransa owned and built many notable buildings in Amsterdam including the Maupoleum (now demolished) and the Caransa Hotel (still standing on the Rembrandtplein). He influenced the Amsterdam football club AFC Ajax, through his friendship with its chairman, and by supporting the team and players financially.


Caransa was born on 5 January 1916 into a family of Sephardi Jews[1] in Amsterdam. He grew up poor, and had his first paying job at age 5. At age 16, according to a well-known story, he bought a wrecked car for one and a half guilders, sold the parts for profit, then bought more cars.[2]

World War II

During World War II, according to Frank Bovenkerk, emeritus professor of criminal science in Utrecht, Caransa, angered by the anti-Jewish violence of the NSB (National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands), joined one of the many knokploegen, "assault groups" that in turn beat up on NSB members and especially members of the WA (Weerbaarheidsafdeling), the NSB's violent paramilitary wing. After the war, Caransa would not speak of these matters, saying it brought back too many painful memories.[3] Before the February strike in response to Nazi pogroms, almost all of Caransa's family, including his brother Joel who lived next door to him, had already been arrested. His sister Femma managed to hide, while Maup himself reported at Westerbork transit camp after his parents were taken there. He spent a week with them but was let go, while his parents were deported to Germany.[4] His parents and his three brothers died in Nazi concentration camps.[2] Because he married a Catholic woman in 1941 and did not appear stereotypically Jewish to the Nazis and their allies[5][6][7] (he had blond, almost red hair and light-blue eyes[2]), he was "destarred" after having agreed to sterilisation.[4][8] He survived the war living in the Jodenbuurt, the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam; he and his sister were the family's only survivors.[9]

After the war: trade and real estate

After the war he began a career as a military surplus trader (Dutch: dumphandel), selling leftover material from British and US forces.[9] In 1958, de Volkskrant described Caransa's stock in Amsterdam's Entrepot dock, listing hundreds of trucks, bulldozers, and other vehicles (to be shipped to Thailand, Singapore, and the Middle East) and five German E-boats (for France and Spain).[10] Caransa invested his profits in real estate,[9] and when the dump trade fell flat he continued as a real-estate developer,[2] becoming a millionaire.[9] He owned the Schiller Hotel, much of the Rembrandtplein[10] (where he had Piet Zanstra build the Caransa Hotel), and had bought and sold the Amstel Hotel and the Hotel Americain[9]—he owned almost all of the luxury hotels in the city.[6] One of his treasured acquisitions was De Doelen, another luxury hotel; as a child, when he was unable to fall asleep, his mother would tell him to "go sleep in De Doelen".[2]

Toward the end of his life he had acquired many of the properties in the Jodenbuurt. He financed the building of the Maupoleum (also by Piet Zanstra), widely cited as ugly,[11][12][13] and as the ugliest building in the city[14][15][16] or even the country.[17][18][19][20] It was officially named the Burgemeester Tellegenhuis but came to be called after Caransa,[21] the name being a combination of "Maup" and "mausoleum".[9]


In the 1960s and 1970s Caransa was involved with the Amsterdam football club Ajax. He was a close friend of Ajax chairman Jaap van Praag, was often seen in the Ajax offices, and frequently traveled with the team, which he most likely supported financially—at the time Ajax was not as popular or rich as it later became. He was asked to take a financial interest in the team as well but apparently said there were too many amateurs in the organization. During Van Praag's chairmanship, however, Ajax grew and developed a reputation for success and wealth, for which Caransa's money, which supported the team and its players, was partly responsible.[22] On occasion, the club, which has a number of nicknames including "Sons of the Gods",[23][24] was referred to as "Caransajax".[25]


Caransa's gravestone, with a memorial stone he had raised in remembrance of his family members who died in the Holocaust

In 1977, he was kidnapped on leaving the Continental Club after his customary weekly game of bridge[26][27] and held for five days; he was released after a reported payment of ten million guilders in ransom.[28][29] The kidnappers were never found.[2]

Caransa was the first well-known Dutch person to be held for ransom.[30] During his captivity, though, Caransa continued to negotiate: his kidnappers wanted 40 million, and he offered 300,000.[9] The ten million was paid with marked money; by 2009, about a half a million guilders had been recovered. An Italian member of the Mafia was caught after depositing 480 of the 1000-guilder notes, but he refused to talk.[31]

Later life and death

In November 1977 he opened a bridge tournament, one of the first public events after his release, and joked that two minutes of applause for him at the occasion was better than two minutes of silence. His love of bridge only became well publicized after the kidnapping; from 1971 to 1988 he sponsored bridge tournaments that brought the world's best players to Amsterdam, and he supported a semi-professional team for three years.[10]

Caransa's real estate company, the Caransa Group, is run by two of his grandchildren; the year before his death he ranked 186 on the list of the 500 richest Dutch people, with an estimated 161 million euro. He died in Vinkeveen on 6 August 2009,[9] and was buried in the country's oldest Jewish cemetery, Beth Haim in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.[5]


  1. Willems, Maartje (8 August 2009). "Miljonair Maurits 'Maup' Caransa (93) overleden". Elsevier (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Verkerk, Corrie (8 August 2009). "Ten Slotte Maup Caransa 1916 - 2009". Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  3. Bovenkerk, Frank (9 Aug 2014). "Caransa". p. 166.
  4. 1 2 Pelt, Wim (February 2006). "Van autosloper tot vastgoedtycoon: Amsterdamse ondernemer Maup Caransa". Ons Amsterdam. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  5. 1 2 "Plan voor een nieuw educatief cultuurhistorisch landschapspark" (PDF) (in Dutch). Beth Haim. p. 53. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  6. 1 2 "Caransa dwong geluk af". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). 8 August 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  7. "Maup (Maurits) Caransa - van straatarm tot multimiljonair". Joods Amsterdam. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  8. "Utrechtsedwarsstraat". Joods Amsterdam (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Meeus, Jan (8 August 2009). "Maurits Caransa (1916-2009)". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 Beusekamp, Willem (9 August 2009). "Meneer Caransa werd ineens Maupie uit Mokum". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  11. Rooijendijk, Cordula (2005). That City is Mine!: Urban Ideal Images in Public Debates and City Plans, Amsterdam & Rotterdam 1945-1995. AmsterdamP. p. 378. ISBN 9789056293826.
  12. Klerck, Hanneke de (8 February 2001). "De Zwarte Madonna". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  13. Hoogstraten, Dorine van (1997). "Bouwen in de binnenstad. Theaterschool en kantoorgebouw in Amsterdam / Building in the inner city. Theatre School and office premises in Amsterdam". Archis. 5.
  14. Eerenbeemt, Marc van den (18 April 1994). "Maupoleum-sloper loopt zich warm". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  15. Denslagen, Wim (2009). Romantic Modernism: Nostalgia in the World of Conservation. Amsterdam UP. p. 127. ISBN 9789089641038.
  16. Wilkinson, Sara J.; Remøy, Hilde; Langston, Craig (2014). Sustainable Building Adaptation: Innovations in Decision-making. Wiley. p. 173. ISBN 9781118477175.
  17. Uytenhaak, Rudy (2008). Steden vol ruimte: kwaliteiten van dichtheid. 010 Publishers. p. 119. ISBN 9789064506697.
  18. Meeus, Jan (8 August 2009). "Maurits Caransa (1916-2009)". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  19. "010 vs 020: Amsterdamse lelijkheid in al zijn schoonheid" (in Dutch). 16 January 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  20. "Het lelijkste gebouw van Nederland". Oneindig Noord Holland (in Dutch). 6 April 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  21. Kuper, Simon (2012). Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe's Darkest Hour. Nation Books. p. 193. ISBN 9781568587233.
  22. Vooren, Jurryt van de (14 August 2009). "Ajax was voor Maup Caransa als een goede familie: Amsterdammer speelde belangrijke rol bij voetbalclub" (in Dutch). Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  23. Perryman, Mark (2013). Hooligan Wars: Causes and Effects of Football Violence. Mainstream. p. 167. ISBN 9781780578132.
  24. Stokvis, Ruud (2014). Lege kerken, volle stadions. Amsterdam UP. pp. 45–. ISBN 9789048521807.
  25. Goldblatt, David (2008). The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer. Riverhead Books. p. 466. ISBN 9781594482960.
  26. "Nationwide Search Is On For Dutch Kidnap Victim". Nashua Telegraph. Associated Press. October 29, 1977. p. 1.
  27. "Caransa kidnap mystery continues". The Age. Australian Associated Press. October 31, 1977. p. 6.
  28. "Kidnap victim freed: $4 million ransom paid". Pottstown Mercury. November 2, 1977. p. 7. (registration required (help)).
  29. "Kidnaping: $4 Million Deal". Time. November 14, 1977.
  30. "De ontvoering van Maup Caransa" (in Dutch). Geschiedenis 24. 8 August 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  31. "Slechts half miljoen van het losgeld achterhaald". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). 8 August 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2014.

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