A shopaholic Saudi princess who fled a luxury hotel in Paris in the middle of the night to dodge a €5.7m hotel bill is to have her assets in France seized.
However, the “assets” are €12m worth of leather goods, artworks, jewellery, and designer clothes for which she never paid.
Maha al Sudani, the former wife of Saudi Arabian crown prince Nayef ben Abdel Aziz, was spotted directing her entourage of 60 to load suitcases into a fleet of limousines outside the Shangri-La Hotel at 3.30am on May 31 last year.
She had racked up the huge bill after checking into the hotel the previous December, taking over an entire 41-room floor.
But when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia refused to pay for her stay, she decided to escape.
She and her servants marched out the front door of the five-star hotel, ignoring repeated requests to settle the bill.
Police could not arrest her because she claimed diplomatic immunity.
She then moved into the five-star Royal Monceau Hotel, which, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, is owned by a “family friend”, the emir of Qatar. She left France a month later and has not been back since.
Lawyers for the Shangri-La on Wednesday won a legal bid at a court in Nanterre, west of Paris, to have her assets seized.
Princess al Sudairi’s lavish foreign trips have 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 the former Saudi crown prince, who died last June, escaped and headed for France. She is believed to have stashed her wares from shopping trips around Paris in storage units. The items include art and clothing worth up to €12m.
A spokesman for the Shangri-La said it was pleased at the judge’s ruling, but did not expect the bill to be settled anytime 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.”
The princess has a history of doing a runner with unpaid bills. In 2009, she claimed diplomatic immunity, again in Paris, after running up shopping bills of more than €17mincluding €70,000 on designer lingerie.
The following year, she needed to again be bailed out after ordering 27,000 worth of glassware and silverware from a Paris store. Three years ago, fashion chain Key Largo went to court to obtain €89,000 owed by the princess.
Her IOU notes handed to shopkeepers reading “payment to follow” were usually accepted, but up to 30 of Paris’s most exclusive shops have fallen foul of her credit notes, according to French newspapers.
Read more: Irish Examiner