Sheikh’s love of Bol­ly­wood leads to $40-mil­lion law­suit

Meet­ings with stars can­celled as costs es­ca­lated

National Post (Latest Edition) - - WORLD - Cey­lan ye­ginsu The New York Times

LON­DON • Sheikh Ha­mad Isa Ali al-Khal­ifa was in a funk. His fa­ther had just died, and the sheikh, a cousin of the king of Bahrain, had sunk into de­pres­sion. Cast­ing about for a way to re­vive his spir­its, his friends and rel­a­tives hit on a plan: have him in­vest some of his hefty in­her­i­tance in a scheme to meet his favourite Bol­ly­wood stars.

The 49-year-old sheikh had nur­tured a pas­sion for Bol­ly­wood films ever since his In­dian nanny in­tro­duced him to the genre as a child. So, af­ter col­lect­ing his in­her­i­tance, he was pre­pared to pay large sums of money to meet his idols.

But the amount and terms of what he was will­ing to pay came into dis­pute last year and ended up in a court­room in Lon­don, Eng­land, where an Egyp­tian busi­ness­man ac­cused the sheikh of reneg­ing on a deal for more than US$40 mil­lion that in­volved meet­ing dozens of Bol­ly­wood celebri­ties in In­dia.

“In spite of the end­less amounts of cash he was will­ing to spend on his ob­ses­sion, in­clud­ing on one oc­ca­sion hand­ing me a dark grey Sam­sonite suit­case and a Cartier or Rolex car­ton con­tain­ing £600,000 pounds and US$250,000 in cash, the pay­ments sud­denly dried up,” the busi­ness­man, Ahmed Adel Ab­dal­lah Ahmed, said af­ter bring­ing his claim to the Bri­tish High Court.

The busi­ness­man said the agree­ment had called for Ha­mad to pay US$1.5 mil­lion for each meet­ing with 26 Bol­ly­wood stars plus a US$500,000 bonus pay­ment for ev­ery third meet­ing.

Tes­ti­fy­ing in Novem­ber, Ha­mad con­fessed to hav­ing a love for 1970s-era Bol­ly­wood stars, but de­nied promis­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to meet them.

“I have all of these favourite stars whom I re­ally love,” he said pas­sion­ately.

Ha­mad as­serted that Ahmed had ini­tially told him the pri­vate meet­ings would cost around US$50,000, but that af­ter in­tro­duc­ing him to sev­eral Bol­ly­wood celebri­ties he started to make “un­war­ranted de­mands for very large sums of money.”

Af­ter meet­ing four Bol­ly­wood stars and pay­ing $3 mil­lion in fees, he felt he was be­ing taken ad­van­tage of and said that he had in­formed Ahmed he should not ar­range any fur­ther meet­ings.

Ahmed then sued Ha­mad for breach of con­tract and dam­ages of over US$33 mil­lion. The court ruled the case could be tried in Eng­land in­stead of Bahrain be­cause the oral agree­ments were made be­tween two peo­ple in Lon­don who have busi­ness con­nec­tions in the city.

On Fri­day, the High Court dis­missed the claim in its en­tirety.

I HAVE ALL OF THESE FAVOURITE STARS WHOM I RE­ALLY LOVE.

NIKLAS HALLE’N / AFP / GETTY IM­AGES FILES

The Royal Courts of Jus­tice in Lon­don, where the Bol­ly­wood case was dis­missed Fri­day.

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