Billionaire businessman Mohamed Al Fayed has died, according to a statement from his family. The 94-year-old was known as a prior owner of both famed London department store Harrods and the Fulham Football Club. He passed away on Wednesday.
On this side of the pond at least, he was perhaps best known as father to the late Princess Diana’s boyfriend at the time of her death, Dodi Fayed. They were both killed in a 1997 car crash in Paris.
“Mrs. Mohamed Al Fayed, her children and grandchildren wish to confirm that her beloved husband, their father and their grandfather, Mohamed, has passed away peacefully of old age on Wednesday August 30, 2023,” the family shared in a statement released to the media through the soccer team that he once owned. “He enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement surrounded by his loved ones.”
Beyond his family’s connections with Princess Di, Al Fayed’s family played a key role in Hollywood history: funding films including 1981’s “Chariots of Fire” through Dodi’s Allied Stars film production company. The inspirational sports movie would go on to win four Academy Awards. The film company was also involved with the 1991 Peter Pan-inspired cult classic “Hook,” among others.
“When Dodi first came across the script for ‘Chariots Of Fire,’ it had been collecting dust on a shelf,” Mohamed Al Fayed said in a 2012 release to the press, on the occasion of the film’s re-release. “No one else wanted to invest in it. But Dodi was a filmmaker of real vision and when he showed me the script, I knew it was something very special.”
Al Fayed noted how moved he was by the messages of the film.
“‘Chariots Of Fire’ was unlike any other film being made at the time; a story of loyalty, determination and standing up for what you believe in; refusing to be knocked down when everyone around you wants you to fail,” Al Fayed stated. “These were principles Dodi and I shared. Principles I have lived my life by. There was no question, we wanted this story to come to life in film and put the money forward so it could be made.”
Al Fayed described that year’s Oscars as “one of the proudest nights of my life.”
Mohamed and Dodi were both depicted last year in Season 5 of Netflix’s “The Crown,” showing how Princess Diana became acquainted with both father and son.
Al Fayed was also an icon in the sports world, with his successor at Fulham FC issuing his own remembrance.
“The story of Fulham cannot be told without a chapter on the positive impact of Mr. Al Fayed as Chairman,” Khan said in a statement. “His legacy will be remembered for our promotion to the Premier League, a Europa League Final, and moments of magic by players and teams alike. I always enjoyed my time with Mr. Al Fayed, who was wise, colourful and committed to Fulham, and I am forever grateful for his trust in me to succeed him as Chairman in 2013.”
Al Fayed’s pop culture influence was widespread — he even made an appearance getting interviewed on Sacha Baron Cohen’s British prank interview program “Da Ali G Show.”
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