Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian-born businessman who owned the department store Harrods, has died aged 94.
His death comes almost 26 years to the day after the car crash in Paris that killed his eldest son, Dodi, and Diana, Princess of Wales, on 31 August 1997.
Fayed was born in Alexandria and was the son of a schoolteacher. In his homeland, he launched his own shipping business, before becoming an adviser to one of the world’s richest men, the Sultan of Brunei, in 1966.
When he arrived in the UK in the 1970s, he joined the board of the mining conglomerate Lonrho in 1975, but left nine months later. In 1979, with his brother Ali, he bought the Paris Ritz Hotel.
The Fayeds’ next target became Harrods and in 1985, the brothers succeeded in clinching a £615m takeover bid of the store in Knightsbridge.
He retained ownership of the store after the Frasers group entered public trading until 2010, when he sold it to Qatar Holding. The businessman also resurrected the satirical magazine Punch.
In 1997 he bought Fulham football club in west London for £6.25m and famously invited Michael Jackson to watch a game at Craven Cottage.
In 1999, Fayed agreed for the club’s manager, Kevin Keegan, to take over as the England national team manager. Fayed sold the club to billionaire businessman Shahid Khan in 2013.
The entrepreneur is known for his involvement in the cash-for-questions scandal in 1994, which saw MPs resign after failing to declare that they had been paid by the Egyptian to ask questions in parliament.
He approached the Guardian newspaper with the allegations in 1994, and the affair led to the resignation of MP Tim Smith as a Northern Ireland minister
Another MP, Neil Hamilton, was found to have accepted bribes, including a holiday at the Ritz and a free shopping spree at Harrods. Hamilton did not stand down, but lost his seat at the 1997 general election.
Fayed married Finnish socialite and former model Heini Wathén in 1985, with whom he has four children, Jasmine, Karim, Camilla, and Omar.
More to follow …