A Saudi Arabian princess and four other royals sued hotel group Wyndham Worldwide Corp. (WYN) after jewelry and cash worth a total of 10.2 million pounds ($16 million) was stolen during a 2010 visit to London.
Princess Salwa Bint Nassir Bin Abdulrahman Al Thnayan blamed Wyndham and the hotel’s owner, Blue Harbour 2 Ltd., saying security was inadequate and staff were “rude and unhelpful,” according to a lawsuit filed in London.
The Wyndham London Chelsea Harbour Hotel said the valuables should have been kept at a bank or in a safety deposit box at its reception instead of in the room, in defense papers filed in January. The hotel also questioned the link between the claimants and the Saudi royal family and said they had to prove the value of the lost items.
Saudi Arabia’s royals have long been a magnet for thieves. Several million pounds worth of jewelry was stolen in 2009 from a Saudi princess staying at a resort in Sardinia, the Daily Telegraph reported, while the theft of gems by a Thai national working in a Saudi palace soured relations between the two countries in the 1990s.
“London is a popular destination for affluent Saudi Arabians including those of the princess’ status,” her lawyer Andrew Dobson said in an e-mailed statement. “These jewels were with her to wear and it was completely impractical for her to visit a bank every time she wished to decide what jewelry she was to wear each afternoon and evening.”
Wyndham spokeswoman Christine Da Silva said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A call to the registered phone number of Blue Harbour was referred to the hotel, which didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The Saudi Arabian embassy in London said the theft was a private matter and also declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A safe containing a jewelry collection worth about 10 million pounds was removed from the room along with a quantity of cash, according to the lawsuit. They say the hotel gave an access key to someone who wasn’t in the princess’s party, and its security cameras weren’t working properly at the time.
The princess didn’t have insurance because she relied on the hotel’s five-star status to protect her jewelry collection, Dobson said.
The hotel’s lawyers said in defense papers there was a clear notice on the safe warning guests they used it at their own risk. The princess “was in the habit of losing keys” and the hotel had to issue 144 new or duplicate keys during their stay, according to the documents.
The other claimants are Princes Fahad Bin Khaled Al-Saud, Faysal Bin Khaled Al-Saud and Mohammed Bin Khaled Bin Faisal Al- Saud, and Princess Sara Bint Khaled Al-Saud.
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