After God, Muñoz
A tale of success and of failure, hatred and revenge, which began in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and continues down to the present day.
In postwar Barcelona, this phrase summed up the power of Julio Muñoz Ramonet, a businessman who built a huge fortune in the aftermath of the Civil War by manipulating the cotton market, using his contacts inside the Franco dictatorship.
Muñoz Ramonet was an unscrupulous man who exploited the endemic corruption of his times to become the king of the textile industry. He was rich and he liked to show it. His ostentatious lifestyle and excesses contrasted starkly with life in a country where hunger was a daily reality for many.
"Don Julio" ¿ which was how he liked to be addressed ¿ built up a financial and business empire, not only in Spain, but which stretched from the Americas to the Philippines via Switzerland, where he was the owner of two banks. It was in Switzerland that he died, on the run from the Spanish justice system, twenty-three years ago. He was 79 years old and, whether to create a lasting legacy, or to give back to the city a small part of the fortune he had accumulated, he left his mansion and the art collection it contained to the city of Barcelona. But his daughters, the inheritors of the rest of his estate, began a legal battle against Barcelona's city council, to contest their father's decision. It was to last 17 years. When representatives of the council finally took possession of the keys to the property, in the summer of 2013, they were able to confirm what they already suspected: the best works of art from the Julio Muñoz collection were not inside the house. His daughters had moved them elsewhere.
The documentary "Después de Dios, Muñoz" tells the story of this lawsuit. It reveals the manoeuvres that Julio Muñoz's daughters engaged in to prevent the City Council discovering that it was the beneficiary of the will, and describes the origins of this valuable collection, which included works by El Greco, Goya, Sorolla, Murillo and other major artists, from the Romanesque period down to the 1970s.
This special report by the "30 minuts" programme is also an in-depth investigation into Julio Muñoz Ramonet's life, with first-person testimony from people who knew him well. It reveals a peculiar character who polarised opinion among those he met. He helped the children of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, placing his Swiss banks at their disposal to deposit some of the spoils that their father had amassed before his assassination. He did business with the Sheik of Kuwait, and was a friend to Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The documentary team followed Muñoz Ramonet's trail to the federal archives in Switzerland. There they found confidential documents relating to investigations into Julio Muñoz, conducted, among others, by the Swiss authorities in the late 1950s, as he attempted to lay the foundations of a European banking empire.
But in the end, Muñoz's empire collapsed. Wanted by the Spanish authorities, he lived out the last five years of his life in a luxurious suite in a Swiss spa. He never returned to Barcelona, but bequeathed the city his mansion - and his art collection.