Mohamed al-Fayed, the Egyptian business tycoon whose vast empire of trophy properties and influence in Europe and the Middle East was overshadowed by the 1997 car crash in Paris that killed his son Dodi and Princess Diana, died on August 31 at age 94.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1929, Fayed built a far-reaching business empire in shipping, oil, banking, and real estate over his decades-long career, amassing a net worth estimated at $2 billion by Forbes this year. His holdings included the legendary Ritz Hotel in Paris and, for 25 years, the iconic Harrods department store in London.
Though an Egyptian citizen, Fayed lived and worked mostly in Britain, where he reveled in the trappings of aristocracy despite being scorned as an outsider. His most renowned relationship was the tabloid-friendly romance between his son Dodi and Princess Diana in the summer of 1997.
On August 31, a car crash in a Paris tunnel claimed the lives of Dodi, driver Henri Paul, and Princess Diana, who was rumored to be engaged to Dodi. Fayed claimed the deaths were murder, but investigations found the driver, who was intoxicated, caused the crash while being pursued by paparazzi.
The incident caused an uproar amid accusations against Fayed and conspiracy theories, but inquiries rejected all conspiracies and called the deaths accidental. Fayed later said he was “leaving this to God to get my revenge.”
Beyond the scandal, Fayed left a legacy as an ambitious, unorthodox business tycoon who reveled in bucking the establishment.
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