Originally from the Netherlands – where his father owned a number of jazz clubs – international entrepreneur Jan Holleman has chosen to make his home in Monte Carlo. We started by asking him the obvious question – why here?
“Having lived in places as diverse as Sydney, Los Angeles and Scottsdale, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me the Côte d’Azur is simply the best place in the world to live. The coastline is the most beautiful in the world, the food is the best, the waters of the sea are the safest (no sharks or other awkward surprises), the population very international – and on top of all that there’s Switzerland for skiing around the corner, and Paris and London only minutes away – what more does a man want?”
Thanks partly to your father’s influence, music has been part of your life for a long time. How did your love of singing come about, and when did you have the idea to record a CD?
“It started at a very young age, with a strong interest in jazz and the great singers – Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand – the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, sax players Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster. And of course Frank Sinatra. At the same time I was also a fan of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – strange, but true! My Mom loved to hear me singing Sinatra almost every day. The idea of recording a CD started as a joke in Gerhards Café here in Monaco, where I ended up singing live almost every Monday night. The audience apparently appreciated my voice and that was the start of everything. My producer in The Netherlands, Marcel Bertsch, immediately jumped in and the album’s going to be released at the end of May. Don’t forget to buy a copy!”
You’ve mentioned Gerhard’s in Fontvieille, which is a place well known for its ‘local’ atmosphere. How important is that sense of community, even in a small place like Monaco?
“Let me put it this way: whenever I’m outside Monaco, I’m always longing to go back, simply because I feel very good being here. You can’t be surprised that I am one of the great promoters of this wonderful place. Many people have no idea about what life is really all about in Monaco. But it is one of the safest places in the world, it’s always kept very clean with fresh flowers – I love to see that. The people in general are very kind and many of them have extremely interesting life stories. I hope I can stay here for the rest of my life: it really makes me emotional.”
There’s also a lot going on musically, with the famous jazz festivals of Nice, Juan-les-Pins and Monte Carlo. What has been your greatest musical encounter, here or anywhere in the world?
“Actually my favourite artists are in a different kind of direction – the Canadian singers Michael Bublé and Garou are definitely up there, along with Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera. I’m also a fan of Duffy. My first encounter with serious musicians was when I was, I think about 16 years old. My father invited my to come to a private session in The Netherlands with the Dave Brubeck Quartetand I was introduced to the best drummer in the world, Joe Morello. There can’t have been more than ten people there. It made a huge impression on me.”
Can you tell us a bit more about your work?
“I started 39 years ago as a real estate investor, mainly in office buildings and retail properties. I worked in LA but the actual building of a large portfolio took place in the Netherlands. In fact I am still active in this field. In 2006 I bought a 100% subsidiary from Philips Electronics in Eindhoven. This company, Anteryon, (www.anteryon.com) is an optical firm that specializes in making miniature lenses for the cameras for mobile phones. Not surprisingly, our biggest client is Nokia, along with many other famous names. Last year I resigned as chairman of the supervisory board but stayed on as a board member, giving me much more time for my other interests such as sport (football, tennis and golf) and – of course – my music.”
And cars and other luxuries?
“I have always been crazy about motor racing. In fact it was because of theMonaco Grand Prix that I started visiting the Principality from 1978 onwards. From the age of 14 I remember my old man always driving Porsches. And 50 years on, there’s still a Porsche in the garage! Later on in life I started to appreciate Bentleys very much and again it was here in Monaco where I bought my first in 2001. The Arnage is a great car and it’s great to see the big smile on their faces when I pick up friends from Nice Airport. In the Netherlands I keep an old – but very loyal – Jaguar Sovereign. The new models I don’t like very much, so I stick with the old ones. I have a boat too, a Monte Carlo Off Shorer 32, not very big but affordable and a lot of fun. At my age this luxury is not too extravagant I suppose.”