In December 1989, Rutger Ulterman was at an office in Bucharest, Romania, trying to close one final deal before rushing off for the airport. The Berlin Wall had just fallen, as had the regime in what was then Czechoslovakia. Romanian dictator Ceaușescu was still clinging to power, and the situation was very tense.
“Our Volvo 245 was waiting outside and we needed to leave by three to make sure we had time to get through security at the airport,” says Rutger. “At three o’clock, the Romanians came back with yet another change to the contract. At half past three we ran down the stairs, and the contract was signed on the Volvo’s bonnet. We then drove 160 kilometres an hour through the empty streets of Bucharest. We didn’t get stopped by the police, and we managed to catch the last flight out. Five days later, they shot Ceaușescu. That was the grand finale, the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.”