Sheikh’s love of Bollywood leads to $40-million lawsuit
Meetings with stars cancelled as costs escalated
L O N D O N • 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.