The stepdaughter of a Belgian baroness who was shot dead by her own stepson on Wednesday has accused her of stealing the family’s wealth and ‘wanting their fortune for herself’.
The body of Baroness Myriam Ullens, 70, was discovered outside her luxury home in the south of Brussels earlier this week after she was shot dead with four bullets to the head.
Her stepson Nicolas Ullens, a former Belgian spy, confessed to killing the Baroness and wounding his billionaire father in the leg when he fired a total of nine shots.
Baron Guy Ullens de Schooten Whettnall, 88, was with his wife at the time but survived the attack in the village of Ohain.
But Brigitte Ullens, the sister of the confessed attacker, has defended her brother, saying her stepmum ‘devastated the family’ and ‘wanted everything for herself’.
Baron Guy Ullens de Schooten Whettnall (right) was with Baroness Myriam Ullens (left) at the time of the attack on Wednesday
Nicolas Ullens has now handed himself in to police and confessed to the killing. He has been charged with murder and weapons offences
Speaking to Nieuwsblad newspaper, Brigitte said despite confessing to killing her stepmother, her brother is ‘a very nice man’.
She said her brother finally snapped when it emerged the Baroness had plans to sell the family home.
‘It blew up on Wednesday. Our family has been devastated for years. Only one thing mattered to Myriam: she wanted the family fortune for herself and we didn’t count.
‘She even forbade dad to stay in touch with us. In recent years, dad’s mental state deteriorated and she took advantage of it.
‘She had just put the house up for sale. What was she going to do with the money? I don’t know, but I guess she would have kept it for herself.’
Nicolas Ullens has now handed himself in to police and confessed to the killing. He has been charged with murder and weapons offences.
He is expected to appear before court on Monday.
Prosecutors said Nicholas leant to shoot as part of his spy training in the Belgian secret service. They said he rammed his stepmother’s VW Golf with his own car as she tried to pull out of the driveway at their Ohain home.
He then fired six bullets in the direction of the victim.
According to reports, the baroness and her stepson had been in long-running disputes over issues of inheritance, and he accused her of squandering his billionaire father’s money.
A representative of Walloon Brabant judicial police said in a statement: ‘The suspect offered no resistance and explained that he had killed his stepmother.
‘He was carrying a handgun, which was seized. He was deprived of his freedom.’
The 57-year-old suspect was heard on Thursday by an investigating judge, who placed him under arrest, and charged him with murder and a violation of the law on armed weapons.
The couple opened the Ullens center in 2007 – considered at the time to be the first contemporary art museum in China
Baroness Myriam Ullens was shot dead by her stepson outside her home in the south of Brussels
Baron Guy Ullens de Schooten and Baroness Myriam Ullens de Schooten pose during the Don Quichotte Ballet
The baron and baroness – who opened the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing – married in 1999, and have been influential art collectors ever since.
They began their career by collecting classical Chinese art scroll paintings, before switching their attention to contemporary art.
The couple opened the Ullens center in 2007 – considered at the time to be the first contemporary art museum in China.
In 2004, baroness Ullens, who went by Mimi and was a cancer survivor, founded the Mimi Foundation to create centers within hospitals to provide physical and mental therapy for patients undergoing cancer treatment.
In 2013 she co-organised an exhibition and benefit auction during Frieze Week in London to support the Mimi Foundation.
‘If many of the artists in this project are Chinese that is because of our long and close relationship with them. This is just the tip of our iceberg—that we are continuing to follow and collect intensively with the new generation,’ the baroness told Ocula at the time.
‘A collection is like a living breathing body. It evolves in an organic manner.’
The baroness Ullens was born in Colgone, Germany, in 1952.
Nicolas Ullens, a former Belgian state security officer, is one of the baron’s four children with his first wife, Micheline Franckx.
He spent his career working in Belgium’s security service in the Russian counter-espionage department.
‘He was very haughty and sometimes boasted about his wealth,’ a former colleague of his told The Times.
‘In state security you have to be discreet and diplomatic, but he was not like that. He was a loudmouth. He learnt to shoot with us.’