Revealed: Prince Andrew has FOUND a buyer for his £18m Swiss ski chalet after paying off £6.6m debt to socialite – as he faces huge bill for US sex assault lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre
- Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, entered a legal battle to recoup money from Duke of York
- She had sold Swiss chalet – Chalet Helora – to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
- But the couple failed to pay a cash amount of £5million for the Verbier property
- Ms de Rouvre has now said the matter is settled meaning Andrew is free to sell it
Prince Andrew has found a buyer for his beloved ski chalet in a deal worth an estimated £18 million, MailOnline can reveal.
Sources close to Andrew confirmed that the sale of the chalet in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier is ‘proceeding’ after a mystery buyer agreed to take it off his hands.
Andrew was only able to sell the property, called Chalet Helora after settling a £6.6 million debt to French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, who sold it to him and Sarah Ferguson in 2014 also for £18 million.
Andrew and Fergie agreed with Ms de Rouvre that the house would be paid for in instalments.
But Ms de Rouvre claimed the Yorks failed to make the final instalment of £5m, resulting in her launching legal action against them in the Swiss courts two years ago for the amount she was owed, plus interest, which came to a combined £6.6 million.
Under Swiss law, he was prevented from selling the chalet until the matter had been resolved.
Ms de Rouvre confirmed the payment had been made and said: ‘The war is finished. It is the end of the matter. I have nothing to do with it now. That’s all.
Prince Andrew bought the seven-bedroom Chalet Helora (pictured), in the luxury Swiss resort of Verbier with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in 2014 for £16.6million
In September last year, it was reported that Andrew and the Duchess of York were close to selling the chalet to settle a legal dispute with its former owner, Isabella de Rouvre, 74
‘I don’t know what they are doing now. They were here at Christmas but I only know that because I read it in the press. I did not see them. So Happy Christmas and that’s that. The end.
‘It was about six weeks ago that the matter was closed. It was November. It’s done. They paid the money and it was done. It is closed for me. The war is over.’
A friend of the socialite said it had been a ‘hugely stressful’ time for Ms de Rouvre.
Meanwhile, a source close to Andrew confirmed to MailOnline: ‘I can confirm that the legal action has been halted and that the chalet is being sold – but otherwise no comment on private financial matters.’
There is no completion date for the sale but property experts in Verbier claimed that it could be ‘just a matter of weeks.’
Andrew is believed to have finally paid Ms de Rouvre late last year. She said: ‘The war is over. He has paid the money.’
But the settlement has led to questions over how Andrew raised the £6.6million he owed her, especially as on paper at least, he earns a modest amount that is at odds with his lavish lifestyle.
Its sale will also help Andrew free up some money to pay his legal bills due to claims that he sexually assaulted Virginia Roberts, with a judge in the US set to rule on whether he should face civil action.
The sale of the chalet will help Andrew free up money to pay his legal bills from fighting claims he sexually assaulted Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts. Pictured: Andrew and Epstein in 2015
Officially, Andrew earns around £270,000 per year; this includes a £249,000-a-year annual stipend from the Queen, which is topped up with £20,000 from his naval pension.
But Royal observers claimed that he is far from a ‘pauper prince’ and may be a lot wealthier than has been estimated, thanks to a number of past business deals and enjoying a circle of wealthy friends.
Andrew previously owned Sunninghill Park, his former 12-bedroom marital home in Windsor, which was gifted to him by the Queen when he married Fergie in 1986.
In 2007 it was bought by Timor Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan, for £15m – £3m more than the asking price.
In 2016 reports claimed that Andrew was closely involved in the sale and his staff went to great lengths to ensure the deal went through, which was denied by Buckingham Palace.
It also prompted wider speculation of Andrew’s links with Kazakhstan and claims that he acted as a ‘fixer’ by helping a Greek sewage company and a Swiss finance house pursue a £385 million contract in the country.
One Royal observer told MailOnline: ‘Andrew is not quite the penniless prince that we think. He’s the only one of the Queen’s offspring to have been gifted a house by her.
‘He made a lot of money from its sale, but we don’t know how it was invested or what he did with it. He also had extensive business links with Kazakhstan and other powerful international business figures in his role as Britain’s trade envoy.
Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at Maxwell’s house, London, in 2001
His finances are not transparent and because he now doesn’t have any official duties, they don’t have to be.’
Royal experts maintain that Andrew may also have inherited ‘significant’ money from the Duke of Edinburgh’s will although it will remain secret for at least 90 years, following a High Court ruling.
The structure of the £18 million deal for Andrew’s chalet could also explain where he got the money from to pay off his debt to Ms de Rouvre.
Under this, the future buyer may have agreed to give Andrew £6.6 million as an advance, to help him settle the debt and pay the outstanding amount for the chalet upon completion of the sale.
But property expert Henry Pryor, who has advised a number of wealthy clients involved in top end deals insisted that only somebody close to Andrew would do this.
He said: ‘A buyer paying money in advance to help Andrew settle his debt is highly unlikely. I would not advise any of my clients to do this and it’s not really how things work.
‘I can’t see any wealthy buyer handing over £6.6 million prior to a sale being confirmed, unless it’s a close friend, Andrew’s mother or perhaps another relative.’
Andrew has come under the spotlight in the past for his associations with wealthy figures, who it emerged, helped him out financially.
Maxwell gives Jeffrey Epstein a foot massage on his private jet dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’. The photo was entered into evidence in Maxwell’s case on December 7 by the US Attorney’s Office
Late last year, Bloomberg News reported that Andrew took out a £1.5m personal loan in 2017 that was subsequently paid off by companies connected to David Rowland, a multimillionaire Conservative donor and financier, who he was close to.
Andrew denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
It was also confirmed in 2011 that Mr Rowland also helped clear Fergie’s debts of £5 million, with sources claiming that he was just one of a number of friends ‘who rallied round.’
Disposal of the chalet will leave him owning no property in the UK or abroad.
Fergie and the couple’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, were seen cavorting around Verbier just after Christmas, enjoying a ski holiday – perhaps their last in Chalet Helora.
The chalet, which boasts seven bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool, holds special memories for the royals.
As a family, the Yorks rented Chalet Helora from Ms de Rouvre for winter holidays before deciding to buy it in 2014 as a nest egg for their daughters.
Andrew and Fergie jointly purchased the property for about £18 million.
Andrew pictured in 2001 with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and the children in Verbier, Switzerland
They reportedly took out a mortgage for £13 million with the remaining £5 million agreed to be paid in cash.
When this sum remained outstanding, the Yorks allegedly made a deal with the socialite to defer the payment until December 2019.
The pair was then expected to pay £6.6 million, consisting of the original sum plus interest.
But despite repeated demands the debt remained unpaid.
In May 2020, Ms de Rouvre was forced to sue the Duke. A protracted legal battle then ensued.
Until the debt hanging over the chalet was paid he was powerless to sell. It is believed he has now found a buyer and the sale is being finalised.
Fergie and the princesses were photographed in the resort last week with their families.
One neighbour said: ‘Maybe that was their last holiday here. To be honest the neighbourhood won’t be too sorry to see the back of them. Once they turn up along comes all the paparazzi from Italy, France, Switzerland, you name it.
‘They are a nuisance blocking the roads and we often have to ask them to turn their engines off. They just sit there with fumes going everywhere polluting our beautiful mountain air.
‘Plus, it’s all rather seedy with Andrew bieng caught up in this sexual abuse scandal. That’s not the image we want in Verbier.’
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