Photo: Press Photo
A Saudi princess who fled Paris’s luxury Shangri-La hotel in the middle of the night to avoid paying a £5 million ($7.5 million) hotel bill is to have her assets seized in France, a judge has ruled.Maha Al-Sudairi was caught ordering her entourage of 60 to load scores of suitcases into a fleet of limos outside the hotel at 3.30am in June last year.
She had racked up the vast bill after checking into the hotel six months previously, taking over an entire 41-room floor.
But when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia refused to pay for her stay, she attempted the early morning dash, claiming diplomatic immunity and moving to the nearby five-star Royal Monceau Hotel, near the Champs-Elysees, which is own by “family friend” the Emir of Qatar.
She then left France a month later and has not returned since.
Lawyers for the Shangri-La on Wednesday however won a legal bid at a court in Nanterre, west of Paris, to have her assets in France seized.
She is known to have bought three storage units in central Paris, where she is believed to have stashed her wares from her shopping trips around the French capital – said to include luxury leather goods, artworks, jewellery, and clothing worth up to £10 million.
A spokesman for the Shangri-La said the hotel was pleased at the judge’s ruling, but did not expect the bill to be settled soon.
“As far the process of getting paid goes, it’s likely to take a long time,” he said. “Her belongings will need to be valued and then sold at auction, and even then we may need to take international legal action against the princess before we see any cash.”
Princess Al-Sudairi’s lavish foreign trips have even proved too much for King Abdullah, who confined her to a palace in the oil-rich state in 2009 after she left a trail of unpaid bills across Europe.
But the ex-wife of Nayef ben Abdel Aziz, the former Saudi Crown Prince, who died weeks after the Paris incident, escaped and headed for France.
Princess Maha has a history of frustrating foreign police forces.
In 2009, she claimed diplomatic immunity, again in Paris , after running up unpaid shopping bills of more than £15 million, including £60,000 on designer lingerie.
The following year, she needed to again be bailed out by her after she ordered £18,000 worth of glassware and silverware from a Paris store.
Her fabulously wealthy credentials meant her IOU notes handed to shopkeepers reading ‘payment to follow’ were usually accepted.
Over the past years, up to 30 of Paris’s most exclusive luxury goods retailers have fallen foul of her credit notes, according to French newspapers.
Jacky Giami, owner of Paris’s Key Largo leisure wear store, said the princess and her relatives pillaged his shop of more than £100,000 worth of stock three years ago.
He said he spent days loitering in the bar of the Georges V hotel hoping to confront her, only to learn she had fled to London.
In 1995, Princess Maha was accused of assaulting a servant in Orange County, Florida, whom she suspected of stealing $200,000 from her. No charges were filed.
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