Now here's a leveraged buyout I would be interested in. In a deal worth £18m, officials will buy 18 buildings from Charlie Geerts - known as Amsterdam's Emperor of Sex - and close down the 'windows'. The final decision came from the city's mayor, Job Cohen, who argued that the brothels were attracting crime and money-laundering to the area. 'We want to get rid of the underlying criminality,' he told a TV station last week.
The Dutch tradition of tolerance — or gedoogbeleid — allowed prostitution to flourish long before it was legalized. Same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia and use of marijuana also are legal here.
Brothel closures run counter to that tradition, those in the district say. "It will never work," says Ton Van den Brink, 53, who owns a lunch counter near brothels, sex shops and "coffee shops" where marijuana is sold and smoked. The Wallen "is like a supermarket. Everybody needs to go there for things they need."