Adnan Khashoggi: Saudi billionaire arms dealer dies aged 82

image source, AFP
image captionAdnan Khashoggi and his wife Lamia at an Aids research fundraising event in 2005

Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a billionaire businessman known for his lavish lifestyle, has died in London at the age of 82.

His family said in statement that he died peacefully while being treated for Parkinson's disease.

Mr Khashoggi became one of the world's richest men in the 1970s and '80s by brokering international arms deals.

His parties were legendary, often lasting for days, but there was also controversy about his business.

A statement from the family on Tuesday said: "He lived his last days surrounded by his devoted family, children and grandchildren, with the same elegance, strength and dignity that characterised his remarkable life. He is survived by his wife Lamia.

"AK was a pioneer who achieved global recognition in a golden age through his extraordinary business achievements and renowned generosity. Our father understood the art of bringing people together better than anyone.

"He combined commercial acumen with an over-riding loyalty to his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His work always furthered the interests of his country."

He most famously brokered arms deals between US firms and Saudi Arabia in the 1960s and '70s, when he worked closely with the Lockheed Corporation, now Lockheed Martin.

James Bond yacht

Later, Mr Khashoggi represented France in its race against the UK to secure the initial $20bn al-Yamamah weapons-for-oil deal with the Saudis - a contract that still runs today.

The nature of his business meant that there was always controversy, and in 1987 he appeared on the front cover of Time magazine under the headline: "Those Shadowy Arms Traders: Adnan Khashoggi's High Life and Flashy Deals".

He spent time in a Swiss prison in the 1980s - where he reportedly dined on gourmet food from the Schweizerhof Hotel - fighting extradition to the US after being accused of helping to conceal funds on behalf of former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos and his shoe-loving wife, Imelda.

image source, AFP
image captionDonald Trump bought Khashoggi's Nabila yacht and renamed it Trump Princess, seen here in 1991

The charges were reduced, and he and Mrs Marcos were eventually acquitted.

Mr Khashoggi once owned one of the world's largest yachts, the 86-metre Nabila, which appeared in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again.

When his business empire ran into financial difficulty, he handed the yacht to the Sultan of Brunei who sold it on to Donald Trump, now president of the US, for a reported $29m in the 1980s.

In 1997, a Paris court ordered him to pay a $1.6m fine for smuggling 37 paintings into France in 1986, brought in from the US on his private jet.

And in 1998, the casino at London's Ritz Hotel settled out of court its lawsuit against Mr Khashoggi for £8m of gambling debts.

The businessman, whose late sister Samira was married to former Harrods chief Mohamed Al Fayed, was an uncle of Princess Diana's final love, Dodi Fayed.

By Sebastian Usher, Arab Affairs Editor

Adnan Khashoggi was the embodiment of the extraordinary riches that the petrodollar brought to his homeland, Saudi Arabia - although his fortune was made in arms deals rather than oil.

Khashoggi was born in Mecca. His father's position as personal doctor to King Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, brought him into early proximity to the royal court.

Through his vast reserve of contacts and a series of massive international arms deals in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, he ended up rivalling the Saudi royal family for glittering wealth and extravagance.

His parties were legendary, featuring a cast of celebrities, glamorous women and fellow tycoons. But a series of scandals - political and financial - not only tarnished his reputation but greatly diminished his fortune.

He ended his days as a distant shadow of the flamboyant showman and inveterate dealmaker he once was.

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