At one point in Al-Fassi’s 50 years, he was worth $6 billion dollars, all of which he basically inherited from being an honorary member of the Saudi royal family (he wasn’t an actual sheik). Growing up, the Moroccan born Al-Fassi lived modestly in Saudi Arabia, but when his sister married Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, suddenly the family’s wealth skyrocketed. He became his brother-in-law’s accountant, which meant managing the Prince’s excessive spending and skimming some off the top for himself.
Al-Fassi had a 170-member entourage, and was known to spend $2,874,000 a month on clothing, houses, jewelry and everything else he could get his hands on. Because Al-Fassi was a Muslim living in Saudi Arabia, Sharia law allowed him to have multiple wives, something that didn’t always work out so well. He was an eccentric, like a Saudi version of Howard Hughes. It’s actually surprising that Hollywood hasn’t a made film about his life yet. Martin Scorsese, especially, should direct Al-Fassi’s life story. Most of Al-Fassi’s one-percent excess occurred during the ‘70s and ‘80s but today, his scheming and lifestyle would be great reality TV and would probably make the Kardashians look like saints.
10. He Owned 36 Luxury Cars, Among Other Toys
When you have more money than you know what to do with it, why not invest in some ridiculously expensive and rare vehicles? Al-Fassi and his three brothers were car men. They owned a Lotus (used in For Your Eyes Only), a Rolls-Royce Corniche, an Aston Martin Logonda, a Ferrari and a $120,000 Lamborghini Countach (that’s how much it was worth in the ‘80s, mind you). They also made sure their maids had decent cars—but not a Ferrari—to use for shopping sprees. Besides the fancy cars, al-Fassi owned two Boeing 707 jets, a $15 million yacht, horses, dogs, jukeboxes, antique model ships and millions of dollars in jewelry.
9. Former Employees Sued Him And His Family For Physically Abusing Them
A couple of Al-Fassi’s employees sued the family, stating that they confiscated their passports, held them against their will inside the family’s home, beat them and allowed them to leave only if they’d sign something saying they liked being employees of the family. The lawsuit put so much pressure on the family, they retreated back to Saudi Arabia.
8. He Freed Lobsters
As a so-called animal activist, he not only liked to adopt stray pets but also soon-to-be-dinner crustaceans. Once when he shopped at a grocery store in Florida, he came across 25 Maine lobsters stuck in a tank, ready to be sold alive. Outraged, Al-Fassi bought all of them, brought them to his palace and then released them into Biscayne Bay off Miami. For that day, at least, the lobsters of the world were saved.
7. He Was An Indian Giver
Al-Fassi offered the American Indian Movement money, but he’d only give it to them if they allowed him to meet Marlon Brando, which didn’t happen. When the Native Americans didn’t bite, he offered the city of NYC $200,000 as a generous gift, but when the mayor didn’t pick him up from the airport, he withdrew the money. To make matters worse, the supposed magnanimous Al-Fassi offered a small Pennsylvania mining town millions if they promised to vote against Reagan in the 1984 election (Al-Fassi didn’t like Reagan, for some reason), but the town refused and didn’t get their money.
6. He Supported Saddam Hussein During The Persian Gulf War
During the Gulf War in the ‘90s, Al-Fassi became a traitor and supported Hussein during the war, even though his home country was fighting against Iraq. On radio broadcasts he criticized Saudi Arabia’s willingness to have foreign troops in their country. Saudi Arabia was so insulted that they placed Al-Fassi under house arrest in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for three years. He then was banished from his home country and whisked off to Egypt, where he died less than ten years later.
5. He Kidnapped His Kids
In the early ‘80s, Al-Fassi and wife Dena had four kids: two of their own, two adopted. A court gave him temporary custody of his kids, but he was not allowed to take them outside of Miami. Because he was immersed in divorcing Dena, there was a fear he’d try to steal the kids; therefore, his bank accounts were frozen. But, this is the great Al-Fassi and no one tells him what to do. He somehow was able to empty his bank accounts and chartered a plane to Saudi Arabia, with his kids in tow.
4. He Adopted 100 Stray Cats
Al-Fassi loved lobsters and cats. When he discovered Americans’ euthanized animals, he made an extreme effort to collect as many cats as he could and store them in his compounds. He ordered his people to fly in cats from other cities and drop them off at his home. Although he sounds like a good Samaritan for taking in strays, he ran into trouble. He pledged millions to build a cat sanctuary in Miami, but he never fulfilled his promise. In an ironic turn of events, an animal rights organization accused him of neglecting the cats.
3. He Owned Such A Tacky Home That People Torched It
In the late ‘70s, Al-Fassi and his family left Saudi Arabia and moved to Beverly Hills. He purchased a $2.4 million mansion, and added his own special touches to the exterior of the home. He had it painted an obnoxious florescent green shade, he had the tiled roofing torn out and replaced with cooper, then he had red public hairs and genitalia painted on the statues outside the home (when it rained, servants covered the statues with raincoats to preserve the paint jobs). The garish decorating infuriated his affluent neighbors, mainly because tourists would flock to the area to check out the train wreck, aka “dirty Disneyland.” Two years later, the house mysteriously caught ablaze and most of it burnt down. Eventually, Al-Fassi left Beverly Hills and moved to Miami, where again, his habitat caused problems. He allowed his herd of goats to graze in his neighbors’ properties, and he installed a bright blue neon Arabic sign on the wall facing Biscayne Bay that read: “In the name of God most gracious, most merciful.”
2. He Racked Up A $1.4 Million Dollar Hotel Bill And Then Refused To Pay It
After leaving Beverly Hills in the early ’80s, Al-Fassi settled down in another ritzy city, Miami. He and his 75-plus entourage occupied four floors of the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, outside of Miami. It cost him $25,000 a day for the rooms and an addition $30,000 per day to feed himself and his entourage. The family hired security guards from the local Hollywood Police Department, which may or may not have been ethical. Al-Fassi and crew lived there for ten months, and when they finally checked out, he refused to pay the $1.4 million tab—even though he obviously could afford it. Al-Fassi spent six hours in jail before he agreed to pay off his debt.
1. He Was Into Polygamy And Had Three Wives At Once
Saudi law grants Arabic men to have up to four wives, and Al-Fassi took advantage of this. In his mid-20s, he married Dena, and they lived together in the infamous Beverly Hills mansion. While married to Dena, Al-Fassi met an actress named Victoria and married her at an Italian restaurant in L.A, and then two years later, in London, he married a teenager named Ibtissam. Soon after their marriage, Victoria sued Al-Fassi for $10 million, accusing him of biting her. Dena, who was conveniently sent away for the other weddings, was not happy with her new sister wives, and also Al-Fassi’s physical and mental abuse of her. Finally fed up, in 1983, Dena filed for divorce and demanded half of his $6 billion assets. She was awarded a fraction of what she had coming to her, $80 million, but she never received it. After his death in 2003, she sued again for more money–the judgement had acquired a lot of interest–and won over $200 million. Over the years, Al-Fassi “acquired” three more wives (he married six times total) but half of them ended up divorcing him.
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