A widow of the late King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia is allowed to keep her mansion on London’s Billionaire’s Row, after a judge rejected a claim against her by the family’s foundation.
Deputy Master Edward Cousins struck out a lawsuit by the Asturion Foundation, which manages the Fahd bin Abdulaziz family’s global assets.
The suit, filed in 2015, claimed the ownership of Kenstead Hall, in the capital’s affluent Highgate neighbourhood, was unlawfully transferred to King Fahd’s widow, Al Jawharah bint Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Ibrahim, from the foundation in 2011. King Fahd died in 2005.
“This is a proper case for the claim to be struck out in its entirety on the grounds of abuse of process,” the judge said.
The judge added that the foundation had a “long period of inactivity” after first filing the suit and that lawyers for the Liechtenstein-based foundation had “failed to deal constructively” with requests for information about the nature and location of its assets.
Asturion’s attorney Graham Shear said the foundation would likely try to challenge with the ruling, according to the report by Bloomberg.
“We do not agree with the judgment of the Deputy Master and we will almost certainly be seeking permission to appeal on behalf of the foundation,” Shear said.
Al Ibrahim was widely believed to be King Fahd’s favourite wife and once held great sway in the kingdom. Other branches of the royal family have seen their influence wane as King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have centralised power, Bloomberg reported.
The mansion was worth a huge £28 million in 2011, according to a document from the UK Land Registry.
It is located on The Bishops Avenue, known as “Billionaires Row” in north London, and is listed on the property website Zoopla as a 10-bed home.
“The Bishops Avenue is like Rolls-Royce – it’s synonymous with status, power, wealth and importance,” said Trevor Abrahmsohn, managing director of the estate agency Glentree International.
The wide, tree-lined avenue is home to houses with large gardens and luxurious facilities like indoor pools, cinemas and cavernous reception rooms.
It is often the setting for bitter legal disputes. In June, a heritage row threatened to scupper a luxury homes developer’s plans to build a Beverly Hills-style mansion, despite the existing property being empty for nearly 30 years.
Conservation officers at Barnet council thought the 1927-built house, on a two-acre site, could have been the work of esteemed Arts and Crafts architect John Soutar.
The street is also home to the mansion where Aristos Constantinou, the Greek-Cypriot fashion tycoon, was shot on New Year’s Day in 1985, as well as Heath Hall – a 24,000 sq ft, 15-bedroom home that has housed Bank of China officials and Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.
By the 1990s, the homes had become so ostentatious that no one wanted to buy them. By 2014, up to one third of the homes in the street, collectively worth £350 million, were sitting abandoned and crumbling, according to The Times.
They included a large row of empty homes bought by the Saudi royal family as insurance in case Saddam Hussein invaded and drove them from their homeland.
The mansions are now predominantly filled by so-called “uber tenants” rather than owner-occupiers.
Image is of Bishops Avenue, not the property in question, and courtesy of Martin Addison at https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/401251