Princess Maha al-Sudairi, the wife of Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister, is holed up in a Paris luxury hotel claiming diplomatic immunity after refusing to pay a $24 million tab she ran up at the city's ritziest boutiques. Al-Sudairi, whose husband Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz is a member of Saudi Arabia's royal family and is second-in-line to the throne, racked up the impressive debt on a year-long spree at the French capital's high-end clothing, jewelry and lingerie boutiques, the London Telegraph reports. In all some 30 businesses have been stiffed including Dior, jewelry shops Chaumet and Victoria Casal, lingerie emporium O Caprices De Lili, and the famed Hotel de Crillon.
The Princess is currently holed up in a $4,000-per-night suite at the ultra-luxe Four Seasons George V hotel (above), which is partly owned by her nephew, Prince Al Waleed bin Talal. After some of those owed money initiated legal proceedings, the plaintiffs' lawyer Jacky Benazerah obtained a court order for bailiffs to go to the George V and seize the Princess' belongings. However, the Princess has invoked diplomatic immunity and will likely refuse them entry, in which case the French interior ministry and senior police officials would have to be consulted to authorize a police escort, the BBC reports.
Jamila Boushaba, owner of Paris' O Caprices De Lili lingerie shop, located directly across from the George V, was left holding a $100,000 bill for lacy underthings. "She was a very good customer for eight years, but then simply stopped paying," Boushaba tells the Telegraph. "I made a delivery of lingerie to the George V, but payment never arrived. Every time we called, we were told the bill would be settled the next day. It never was. When we contacted the Saudi ambassador in Paris he said there was nothing he could do for us." An aide to the Saudi royal family was similarly unhelpful, sniffing, "I'm afraid we can't go around settling bills for the Princess's knickers."
Jacky Giami, proprietor of luxury clothing boutique Key Largo, said the Princess stripped his shelves of some $215,000 worth of casual wear. "We know the family well – they're in Paris a lot," Giami tells the Telegraph. "She's not the kind of customer where you ask for a deposit, or to ask to see a piece of identity." Every time the Princess and her entourage visited Giami's and others' shops a representative would offer staff an embossed card stating "Payment to Follow". And of course having all those exquisite clothes cleaned cost quite a bit as well; the Princess is also said to have run up a drycleaning bill of $50,000 - per week.