Saudi princes have sold more than $600 million worth of real estate, yachts and artwork in the U.S. and Europe since the kingdom’s de facto ruler tightened the purse strings of the ultrawealthy ruling family.
The transactions represent a radical change of fortune for senior princes who funneled windfalls from oil booms in the 1970s and 1980s into some of the world’s most exclusive markets. The vast sums of money were spent largely on hard-to-sell assets or drained by spending that reached $30 million a month for some royals with large staffs and lavish lifestyles, making them vulnerable to recent changes in government policy.
Now, some royal family members are selling assets abroad to generate cash after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 36-year-old de facto ruler, dried up many of the sources of money they had used to maintain their extraordinary spending habits, said people close to the princes conducting the sales.
The princes need cash to pay routine bills including for property maintenance, taxes, staff salaries and parking fees for their airplanes and boats, the people said. In some cases, the people said, they are also motivated by a desire to hold less ostentatious assets to avoid attracting the attention of Prince Mohammed, who has curtailed their privileges and access to state funds in the Al Saud family since his father took the throne in 2015. The Saudi government is aware of the sales.