Yab Yum (brothel)

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Entrance to Yab Yum brothel, Singel 295, Amsterdam. December 2005

Yab Yum was one of the best-known and most exclusive brothels in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.[1] Located in a 17th-century canal house on the Singel, it mostly catered to businessmen and foreign visitors. A second Yab Yum operated for a while in Rotterdam,[2] but has since been closed.

In January 2008, the city of Amsterdam closed the brothel by revoking its license, alleging that it was being used for criminal activity.


In 2005, the entrance fee was 70 euros, which included a drink. Sex for one hour cost 300 euros, but typically also required the purchase of an expensive bottle of champagne.

From its beginning in the 1980s[3] until the legalisation of brothels in 2000, the Yab Yum operated as a "licensed club with no members" and was tolerated according to police guidelines, as long as no drugs and no violence were involved.[1] The club advertised in student newspapers to find employees.[4]

In 1997, it was reported that a woman earned up to $10,000 per month working at Yab Yum, tax free. Anticipating stricter regulation, the club agreed to pay taxes for its 55 employees starting 1 January 1998.[5]

In anticipation of the official legalisation of brothels on 1 October 2000, Yab Yum owner Theo Heuft applied to open a "relax service" at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, to offer exclusive food, drink and massages to travellers. When he was turned down, he filed a lawsuit.[2] The airport brothel was never opened.

In an interview in Millionair Magazine in February 2008, Heuft said that the brothel made its best ever earnings, just over 40,000 euros, on the evening in 1985 when the Dutch football team beat Cyprus 7-1 in Amsterdam. He complained about the "dreadful" atmosphere caused by the "ordinary clientele" that night.[6]

Ownership and scandals[edit]

The club has repeatedly been mentioned in connection with corruption affairs. In 1998 it was alleged that a director of a brokerage house regularly obtained insider information by inviting senior executives to Yab Yum.[7] In 2002 a former manager of a building company alleged that civil servants were commonly bribed with visits to Yab Yum.[8]

In 1990 the major drug trafficker Klaas Bruinsma and his associate Roy Adkins fought in the club after one of their operations had gone sour; shots were fired but nobody was injured and nobody talked to the police.[9] Adkins was assassinated later that year and Bruinsma was shot to death in 1991.[9]

A newspaper article in 2006 reported that true ownership of the brothel had long been in the hands of mafia figures, beginning with Klaas Bruinsma, who called it "the club house". After Bruinsma's death, his associates Sam Klepper and John Mieremet took over, along with the Dutch Hells Angels.[3] Klepper was murdered in 2000; Mieremet survived an assassination attempt in 2002 but was murdered in 2005.


In November 2007 it was reported that the city of Amsterdam was trying to close the brothel by revoking its license, alleging without going into details that it was being used for criminal activity.[10] This was part of a larger campaign of mayor Job Cohen to reduce the number of sex businesses operating in the city center. Closure was done with the Bibob act which does not require proof of criminal activities or criminal connections: reasonably strong indications are sufficient.[11][12]

Yab Yum appealed the revocation of the license. At court, the city's lawyer alleged that owner Hennie Vittali was a front man for the Hells Angels, who had taken over the club in 1999 following blackmail and threats, buying it for €1.8m although the market price was put at €9m.[13] On 4 January 2008 the court confirmed the action of the city. In a public statement, the brothel denied any connection with the Hells Angels and vowed to appeal the ruling. The brothel closed on 7 January 2008.[14] On 15 January 2008 a higher court confirmed the decision; Yab Yum lost its license and will remain closed.

On 3 April 2010 an offer was announced; sex club owner Hennie Vittali was asking €6m for the name and property.[15]

Yab Yum Unlocked, the Yab Yum Museum[edit]

The Yab Yum building was bought for 3 million euros and the brand for 1 million euro by entrepreneur Chris Kraijpoel. In 2011 he applied for a new licence to reopen the brothel.

In September 2013, the original Yab Yum was reopened as a museum for the public. For €17.50 visitors can experience a tour of 20–40 minutes which includes the reception desk, the corridors through the complex, the bar where guests met the girls, all the rooms with the original beds and spas, the caviar club, the Champagne closets, the changing rooms for the girls, and the medical room. At the beginning of 2016 media reported that because of financial troubles the museum had closed down[16].


"Yab-Yum" is Tibetan for "father-mother" and describes a symbol in Buddhist and Hinduist art showing a male and female god in sexual union.

Heruka in Yab-Yum form. On display at Gangaramaya Temple museum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elizabeth Grice: "Three kinds of prostitution flourish in Amsterdam." The Daily Telegraph, 24 April 1992, page 13.
  2. ^ a b Bordello suing for right to open branch at Amsterdam airport. The Associated Press, 2 February 2000
  3. ^ a b Yab Yum: exclusief én crimineel, BN DeStem, 3 May 2006; 'Ook sekshuis Yab Yum werd afgeperst'. Eindhovens Dagblad, 3 May 2006. (in Dutch)
  4. ^ Bordello goes in search of brains. The Independent, 9 September 1992.
  5. ^ Dutch prostitutes face new menace: the tax man. Associated Press, 4 October 1997
  6. ^ Best night at Yab Yum in 1985, DutchNews, 21 February 2008
  7. ^ Insider dealings and laundering cast pall on Amsterdam exchange. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 1 January 1998
  8. ^ Raids in Building Fraud Probe. Het Financieele Dagblad, 20 March 2002
  9. ^ a b Dutch killing reopens files on traffickers. The Independent, 11 May 1992.
  10. ^ Amsterdam Orders Famed Sex Club to Close, The Guardian, 16 November 2007
  11. ^ The BIBOP Law, DutchAmsterdam.nl
  12. ^ Verlaan, Jos: Wie tipte Cohen over Yab Yum? published 17 November 2007 in NRC Handelsblad
  13. ^ 'Hells Angels own Yab Yum brothel', DutchNews.nl, 3 January 2008
  14. ^ Amsterdam court says Yab Yum brothel must close, Reuters, 4 January 2008
  15. ^ "Seksclub Yab Yum staat te koop Sex club Yab Yum is for sale". FOK. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  16. ^ "Einde Yab Yum Museum lijkt nabij: 'Deurwaarder komt deze week'". www.at5.nl (in Dutch). 2016-01-02. Retrieved 2018-11-04.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°22′14.45″N 4°53′19″E / 52.3706806°N 4.88861°E / 52.3706806; 4.88861