Saudi princess Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi apparently tried to stiff some of Paris’s a lot of exclusive boutiques for $20 million and skip out on a $7 million dollar hotel bill. James Reginato complies with her trail.

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It’s an old gambit—slipping out of a hotel in the dead of night to dodge the bill. But it’s a little tricky as soon as you have actually an entourage of 60 world, a balance of even more than $7 million, and a fleet of limousines and various other vehicles waiting to collect you and also your mountains of bags. That was the situation at 3:30 A.M. on May 31, 2012, when Princess Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi reportedly attempted to make somepoint of a run for it at Paris’s five-star Shangri-La Hotel, in the 1sixth Arrondissement, wbelow she and also her retinue had actually inhabited 41 rooms for 5 months. After a tense standoff that involved calls to high-ranking diplomats and officials, she was allowed to leave, whereupon she checked right into the nearby Royal Monceau, owned by Qatar, a friendly neighbor of Saudi Arabia.


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Perhaps Princess Maha believed she could slip ameans bereason simply three years earlier in Paris, according to push accounts, she practically prospered in ducking out on a $20 million tab in the time of an epic shopping spree through the boutiques of the Avenue Montaigne, the Place Vendôme, and elsewhere. When it came time to ring up her purchases, Princess Maha apparently shunned the usual payment techniques, rather having actually a minion hand also the vendor an embossed record stating, “Payment to follow”—a really fancy I.O.U. At some suggest, yet, the checks stopped going out. “She was a very excellent customer for eight years, yet then simply quit paying,” the proprietor of the lingerie store O Caprices de Lili told reporters in June 2009, when she was awaiting virtually $100,000 in payment. The owner of a leisurewear store referred to as Key Largo asserted that he had been stiffed for nearly $125,000 worth of merchandise.


Toward the end of that 2009 stay—this time at the George V—at leastern among the approximately 30 merchants to whom she supposedly owed money spent days camping out in the lobby of the posh hotel in really hopes of receiving payment, prior to filing a civil insurance claim. In spite of those mountainous debts, her exit from the George V shows up to have actually been unimpeded. The hotel is owned by her cousin Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (net worth: $30 billion), and also, according to some reports, her debts were settled by officials from the Saudi Embassy. But her brother-in-legislation at the moment, King Abdullah (that passed away on January 23), was sassist to be unamprovided by Maha’s scandalous actions, and, on her return to Saudi Arabia, apparently had actually her confined to her palace.

Maha, in her beforehand 50s, was the third of Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s 3 wives. The couple—that were additionally cousins—were together some three decades prior to parting ways. They had actually 5 children, currently ranging in age from 22 to 30. In 2009, Nayef (a half-brother of King Abdullah’s) had actually been second in line for the throne—and also at times Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler as an outcome of the negative health and wellness of both the king and the then crvery own prince, Nayef’s brvarious other Sultan. Nayef was named crown prince in October 2011 following Sultan’s death; by at an early stage 2012 he and Maha had actually divorced. Ailing from diabetes, he passed away on June 16, 2012, at age 78.


In December 2011, Maha defied the royal edict and also “escaped” back to Paris, according to The Telegraph. Her troublesome 2012 checkout from the Shangri-La synchronized closely via the fatality of her ex-husband and, according to some, the complete loss of Abdullah’s favor. “The king was really over her at this point—he wanted nothing to do via her,” said a Middle Eastern woman that stays in Europe and also knows the princess.


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The Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, wright here she continued to be for five months.

It was even even more arduous for sellers to collect this time roughly. In March 2013, a judge in Nanterre, west of Paris, ordered the seizure of the contents of 2 storage units packed with Maha’s 2012 purchases, which were to be auctioned off to repay creditors. The stash reportedly consisted of clothes, hats, handbags, jewelry, artfunctions, bathing suits, designer eyeglasses, carloads of cigarettes, gold-plated serving dishes, around a thousand pairs of women’s shoes, and some framed photographs of the princess posing in a tiara and also a carnival mask.

One of the creditors was the luxury-solutions firm that had actually gave her through drivers and also cars—virtually 30 of them eexceptionally day, including two Rolls-Royce Phantoms. It was left via virtually $400,000 of unpassist bills, a company official told a reporter from the Paris everyday Le Parisien. “We took the risk of handling her, because this was an attractive contract for us, however the totality point has actually turned out to be devastating,” he sassist. “The procedure for gaining reimbursed is obviously going to be lengthy, very lengthy.”


So, the outcomes of a recent fact-finding pilgrimage to Paris are somewhat curious. “The bill was passist within 48 hours” of the covert exodus, a press representative of the Shangri-La told me. “The chapter is closed. It’s not something the hotel really desires to discuss.” “All is fine,” sassist a manager at Key Largo, the sportswear shop that had to go to court to collect $125,000 in 2009. “The bill was phelp.”


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The Chanel and also Dior Boutique in Place Vendôme.

Problematic as this Saudi customer was, nobody wants to lose that industry, plainly. Paris has lengthy been a favored location of well-off Saudis. They congregate mainly in the Eighth Arrondissement—wright here the excellent shopping is (i.e., Avenue Montaigne). Perhaps to continue to be in close proximity to the merchandise, their favored hotels in Paris are likewise here—the George V or the Plaza Athénée (owned by the Sultan of Brunei). “The Ritz was never before their point,” states one Parisian grande dame, that is a frifinish of the royal family members and characterizes Saudi fashion taste as flashy and accessories-oriented: “They tend to favor gimmicky things—Vuitton or Chanel. They are not extremely Hermès. The amounts of shoes they buy you cannot imagine. But if you ever watch their soles, once they cross their legs, they are constantly favor brand-new. Since they never walk on the street.”


Shoes, and also bags, are optimal female purchases, bereason in Saudi Arabia, under women’s abayas, these are the only articles visible to others.

According to Maha’s well-linked Center Eastern acquaintance, the princess’s debts were likely settled—out of a wish, again, to stop family members scandal—by among her late ex-husband’s full brothers, probably Salmale, that flourished Abdullah as king in January 2015.

Maha herself, meanwhile, has actually been grounded in her royal residence again—firmly, this time, sassist the grande dame. “She had no permission to leave the country,” she adds. (Efforts to reach Princess Maha for comment for this story were uneffective.)

In Saudi Arabia’s ruling al-Saud dynasty, wright here King Abdulaziz (that started the state, in 1932) fathered some 45 sons via at leastern 22 wives, tbelow is a critical distinction between half- and also full brothers.

Salmale and Nayef were 2 of salso sons born to Abdulaziz via his favorite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi, of the powerful Sudairi family from Saudi Arabia’s central plateau area of Nejd, wright here the fundamentalist Wahhabi ideology arised some 300 years back. According to some accounts, Hassa al-Sudairi may have actually been as young as 13 as soon as she was favored to marry the future king. After a couple of years, Abdulaziz divorced her to take other wives—Muslim guys are permitted to have actually only four wives at a time—yet he quickly married her aget. They had 12 kids together and remained married until his death, in 1953. Their sons—well-known as the Sudairi Seven—developed the biggest bloc of complete brothers in the imperial family and for this reason have actually wielded substantial power. The late King Abdullah (who had no full brothers) is sassist to have dispreferred them and attempted to limit their power.


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Bags from Hermès.

But through Salman currently on the throne, the Sudairis are back on peak. One of Nayef’s 10 kids, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 55—child of Nayef’s second wife, Al Jawhara—has freshly been called deputy crvery own prince.

Money still plainly gushes via the family. In May 2013, Maha’s youngest boy, Prince Fahd, then 21, arranged a three-day graduation party at Disneyland also Paris for 60 friends that reportedly cost about $20 million. (Eighty dancers were hired to produce spectacular reflects, and Main Street was transdeveloped into a Parisian boulevard, while the park was opened up early on in the morning and after hours, until 2 A.M., for his party. He supposedly invited Mickey and also Minnie to come for a ride on his jet.) Excess is clearly a household tradition.


Originally constructed as a royal residence for Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grandnephew, the Shangri-La is one of Paris’s many expensive hotels. (Rooms begin at $750, and also suites have the right to cost as a lot as $23,000 a night.) A fusion of French Empire and also modern luxe-minimalist décor, it prides itself on its impeccable business. Little of which, it appears, Princess Maha availed herself of, in spite of her $7 million bill. “She brought all her very own human being,” her Center Eastern acquaintance sassist. “Drivers, maids, cooks ... ”


Street indications from two renowned shopping spots.

“We practically never before saw her,” a doorman at the Shangri-La whispered to me. “She stayed in the night. She perhaps came out in the daytime a pair of times in six months…. She’d be surrounded by 10 people rushing her into one of her cars.” According to other sources, the princess’s staff also had waiters, hairdressers, secretaries, bodyguards—and many civilization to bring her packperiods.


Such a nocturnal lifestyle is fairly widespread among well-off and also bad alike in Saudi Arabia, where daytime temperatures deserve to be blistering. Therefore, some of Paris’s many exclusive emporiums maintained late hours. The expensive Louis Vuitton flagship on the Champs-Élysées, for instance, apparently reopened up at 2 A.M. just for her. At one allude in the time of her shopping tbelow she required sustenance and also had actually bags of takeout hamburgers brought in. (Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Chaumet, and Victoria Casal are some of the other shops she was recognized to patronize.)

While tbelow is no doubt that Princess Maha is a world-class shopaholic, she presented little discrimination. “She shopped almost everywhere, from Hermès to Zara and also everywhere in between,” the acquaintance told me.

Without a doubt, Key Largo, wbelow she dropped that $125,000, is a little discount boutique situated in a tacky mall close to Trocadéro that sells downrange sneakers, underwear, and jeans.

She hoovered up virtually every little thing in her path, wherever before she went. According to the acquaintance, after Princess Maha took an excursion to Geneva she essential 4 trucks to haul back her purchases—and also she bought a Lamborghini and a Ferrari, despite the fact that she doesn’t drive. (Woguys are not permitted to do so in Saudi Arabia.)


Le Royal Monceau hotel, wright here the princess stayed after leaving the Shangri-La.

By Heloise Bergman/Rex USA.

According to that acquaintance, who checked out her hotel suite, many type of of Princess Maha’s packages were apparently never also opened: “There were rooms and also rooms complete of bags and boxes. Everywhere you looked there were boxes and also bags, nearly all unopened.”

“When I witnessed her in her suite she was wearing pajamas” rather than the carlots of couture she was amassing. “Tbelow was candy everywhere in her suites,” this person included. “And she carried through her five or six people to job-related in the kitchen, because it had actually to be staffed 24 hours a day.”

Despite her background of utter excess, Princess Maha emerges as a strangely sympathetic figure as you learn more around her.

“Tright here is a cinjury and also a sweetness to her,” said the Middle Eastern acquaintance I spoke with. “But she’s a shed spirit. She’s uneducated; you recognize, they want to marry these girls off as early as they have the right to. Then they have actually nopoint to execute yet shop. It provides for stupid womales, and also it’s a actual difficulty for the country—it means guys are making all the decisions.”

A lively woman, Maha is sassist to be passionate about music, singing, and also love poeattempt, which she provided to choose to write—huge no-nos for females in Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi society. And one of the staunchest enforcers of its adherence to that code was her husband.


As inner minister because 1975, he was in charge of the kingdom’s intrusive knowledge and also defense agencies, also wielding a big meacertain of regulate over its fanatical religious police. An uncompromising conservative, he disapshowed of King Abdullah’s relatively modest social recreates and was well-known to impriboy and also execute Saudis who opposed the regimen, according to author Karen Elliott House in On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future.


The entrance to the Royal Monceau.

From BestImage.

Yet, at least in the previously years of his marital relationship to Maha, he doted on her. “He adored her, indulged her, provided her every little thing she wanted,” said the Center Eastern acquaintance, who defined him as “the Antichrist.”


“Anybody would certainly go crazy being married to him,” this person included.

Somewbelow alengthy the method, the marriage fchanged. In the at an early stage 2000s, according to the French newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur, rumors circulated that she had come to be friendly with a Saudi crooner, Khalid Abdul Rahmale. Known as “the lover of the night,” he supposedly set some of the poems she composed to music—to the extreme chagrin of the Saudi religious facility.


Princess Maha"s comprehensive purchases, in a storage facility in Clichy-la-Garenne, exterior Paris, awaiting confiscation by court policemans in April 2013.

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From BestImage.

Saudi Arabia’s women proceed to be one of the many repressed female populaces in the human being. They are nearly never enabled out of their homes without a male guardian. Even the major task that rich woguys are supposedly enabled to enjoy—shopping—is highly circumscribed. As sales attendants in Saudi Arabia are all males, womales cannot try garments on in the shops, so they need to take all clothes to the shopping-mall restrooms, which are attended by women. “I presume this is what provides international shopping appealing to Saudi women—the ability to be normal at some level,” sassist House—though “normal” is not exactly the word anybody would certainly use to define the Parisian shopping expeditions of Princess Maha al-Sudairi. With Salman running the kingdom currently, tbelow is also speculation that Maha can emerge from disfavor and find herself more mobile aacquire. Watch out, Avenue Montaigne!