Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi has died at the age of 81. He had Parkinson’s disease, according to his family.
Khashoggi was rumored to have been one of the world’s richest men at the height of his career in the 1970s, when he was believed to have been worth some $4 billion.
He made his fortune by brokering international arms deals, and was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, a notorious arms-for-hostages deal that saw several U.S. officials selling arms to Iran despite an arms embargo, and using the money to fund the rebel movement in Nicaragua.
Notorious for his opulent lifestyle and lavish parties, Khashoggi also was notable for his proximity to celebrity. He rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous of international society, including Imelda Marcos, widow of exiled Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Both Khashoggi and Marcos faced U.S. charges of racketeering and fraud in 1990, and both were acquitted.
Khashoggi’s nephew, Dodi Fayed, was involved with Britain’s Princess Diana before the car accident that killed them both in 1997.
His possessions themselves were famous. Khashoggi once owned one of the world’s largest yachts, the 86-meter Nabila, which appeared in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again. The yacht also was the subject of Khashoggi’s Ship, a 1989 single by the rock group Queen.
Khashoggi’s family told media that Khashoggi died peacefully after spending his last days surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Lamia.