LONDON (AFP) - Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a tycoon known for his lavish billionaire lifestyle and far-reaching international connections, has died in London at the age of 82, his family said on Tuesday (June 6).
“Our beloved father Adnan Khashoggi, aged 82, died peacefully today in London while being treated for Parkinson’s Disease,” they said in a statement.
“He lived his last days... with the same elegance, strength and dignity that characterised his remarkable life,” the statement said.
US-educated Khashoggi brokered arms deals around the world, earning handsome commissions and operating in a shady business while partying with global elites.
“Our father understood the art of bringing people together better than anyone,” the family said, adding: “He celebrated life in the living of it, and always with an innate curiosity in others”.
Khashoggi was an uncle to Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s last love, since his sister was married to Fayed’s father Mohamed Al-Fayed.
He was at one time estimated to be worth £2.4 billion (S$4.2 billion) but ran into financial difficulties and had to sell his private DC9 airliner and his yacht, Nabila.
In 1997, a Paris court ordered him to pay a US$1.6 million fine for smuggling 37 paintings into France in 1986. Khashoggi brought in the paintings on his private jet on a flight from the United States to Nice with a stopover in Spain.
In 1998, the casino at London’s Ritz Hotel settled out of court its lawsuit against Khashoggi for £8 million of gambling debts.
The judge had heard that the Saudi businessman between January and April 1986 had gambled a total of £10 million.
His luck quickly ran out and he had to sign a total of 16 cheques for £200,000 each, all drawing from a Swiss bank account.
The bank subsequently refused to honour the cheques because the money to cover was not in the account.