French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre was locked in a drawn-out dispute with Prince Andrew and his ex-wife over the sale of a luxury property in Verbier, Switzerland since 2014. She was owed roughly £6.8million for the holiday getaway – but in 2021 agreed to accept half the sum, only £3.4million in payment. Ms De Rouvre, 74, said she did this partly because she believed the royals were struggling financially – only for them to purchase a £5million flat in Mayfair shortly afterwards.
Prince Andrew and Ms Ferguson bought Ms De Rouvre’s chalet for £18million, but only paid her £13million upfront, with an agreement that they would pay the remaining £5million in instalments, with interest. By 2021, this still had not been paid, and the family owed the socialite £6.8million.
Ms De Rouvre is understood to have taken into account that the couple’s financial situation had been worsened by the Duke’s legal difficulties relating to his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender and paedophile financier who took his own life in 2019. The Duke has strongly denied any wrongdoing and is understood to have reached a settlement with his sexual abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre.
The settlement agreement released the Duke and others from any and all potential liability, his lawyers said.
It emerged today that this payment was likely less than the £12million originally claimed by some experts, and is closer to £3million. Announcing that she had reached the discounted agreement with the Duchess of York, Ms De Rouvre said in February: “The war is finished.”
But last week, Ms Ferguson sealed the deal on a £5million Mayfair home from the Duke of Westminster. The lavish home was reportedly bought as an investment opportunity for daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Ms De Rouvre has now described the purchase as “incredible and unbelievable”, saying she believed the Duchess “didn’t have a penny”.
READ MORE: Kate warned as Princess Charlotte looks to switch sports [REVEAL]
Ms De Rouvre said that, after getting lawyers involved, she had decided not to pursue the full payment in part because of the Prince’s legal troubles. The Duke is believed to have borrowed money from family members in order to pay Ms Giuffre, 38, in March to settle the case.
Ms De Rouvre said this weekend: “I understood they didn’t have the money and believed he would be going to prison in America, so I thought it was best to get what I could.”
Meanwhile in 2011 Ms Ferguson had accepted £15,000 from Jeffrey Epstein, who originally introduced Prince Andrew to Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, to help her avoid bankruptcy. Ms Ferguson has been contacted for comment.