Nicolaas Kroese (1905-1971) started a restaurant in Amsterdam in 1939. Soon after its foundation Kroese expanded his business, bought four adjoining houses in the Spuistraat plus a couple of warehouses in other parts of town, and named his restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen (The Five Flies). When after World War II KLM opened a direct airline to the US, it brought to Amsterdam many American servicemen on leave from their stations in Germany and on their way to or from the US. Kroese, not only a clever businessman but also a flamboyant showman, knew how to promote his business in the US and lured celebrities such as Clark Gable, Jayne Mansfield, Orson Welles and Walt Disney to his place in the heart of Amsterdam. And in their wake many American tourists.
His business prospering and his restaurant for the greater part run by employees, Kroese gradually slipped into a grand vision of the world that was fuelled by pseudo-cabalistic numerology, ideas for world peace, a new set of Commandments to achieve it and an agricultural invention that could rid the world of hunger. It is no coincidence that Kroese and Provo artist and fellow visionary Robert Jasper Grootveld instantly hit it off in the mid-1960s. Kroese became one of Provo’s earliest advocates and patron saints.
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