A beer tycoon is abducted
He did everything possible to protect himself against kidnapers. Hidden TV cameras guarded his Amsterdam offices; high fences, security officers and vicious dogs protected his villa in Noordwijk, a seaside town 22 miles away. Last month his only daughter was married in secret, and though naturally spontaneous and gregarious, he asked newspapers to ignore his 60th birthday. As the multimillionaire chairman and majority stockholder of the brewery that bears his name, Alfred H. ("Freddie") Heineken had good reason to lie low: when a gang seized a fellow Dutch millionaire in 1977, making off with a ransom of $4.1 million, it inadvertently left behind a list of other likely targets. Among them was Heineken.
His precautions were all for naught. As Heineken was leaving his office early one evening last week, three masked men suddenly jumped on him and dragged him toward an orange Peugeot minivan. When Chauffeur Ab Doderer, 57, leaped out of his bulletproof Cadillac to save his boss, he too was beaten and abducted. Coolly following a well-rehearsed plan, the criminals whizzed through downtown Amsterdam, switched to a Citroen getaway car and vanished into the night. Police later discovered bloodstains on the deserted van and two Uzi submachine guns near by.
Heineken, said Friend Sergio Orlandini, president of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is "just the average Amsterdammeralthough with a little money." That was putting it mildly. The portly, quick-witted financial wizard, who is worth an estimated $500 million, may be the wealthiest man in The Netherlands; he is also a full-fledged jet-setter who socializes with Monaco's Prince Rainier as well as Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, and collects Picassos, mansions and a pride of vintage cars.
At 23, Heineken loyally served the family firm, which was founded by his grandfather in 1864, by peddling beer from bar to bar in New York City, while living in a $3.50-a-night hotel room in Times Square. He returned to Amsterdam two years later with an American wife and a canny sense of how to produce publicity with dignity. Since he became chairman of the company in 1971, its sales have more than quintupled, reaching an annual $1.4 billion, thanks in large part to the serenely elegant ads directed by Heineken himself. What he calls "the Rolls-Royce of beers" now sells in 150 countries and is by volume the largest single item to be shipped from Europe to North America.
Shady fortune hunters, as Heineken knows, find such figures irresistible. In 1980 three extortionists threatened to poison cans of Heineken beer unless they were paid more than $1 million. Their plot was foiled. Nonetheless, another would-be crook tried the same ploy last August, demanding $3.3 million. Some of the policemen who thwarted him were entertained by Heineken in his office on the day of his disappearance.