Prince Andrew has settled a £6.6 million debt with a French socialite, paving the way for him to sell his beloved ski chalet to fund his alleged sex abuse case.
Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, sold her house, Chalet Helora, to her then-friends Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in 2014 for £18million.
Andrew and Fergie agreed with Ms de Rouvre that the house would be paid for in instalments.
But Ms de Rouvre claimed the Yorks failed to make the final instalment of £5m for the property in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier.
Initially Ms de Rouvre agreed that it could be deferred until December 2019, with interest accruing, but the pair still did not honour the agreement despite repeated demands.
Glamorous Ms de Rouvre, saddened by the breakdown in trust, was forced to launch a legal battle in the Swiss courts two years ago in an attempt to recoup the sum owed to her by the Duke of York.
The Duke finally paid late last year, and Ms de Rouvre has now said: ‘The war is over. He has paid the money.’
The settlement raises questions over how Andrew raised the £6.6million he owed Ms de Rouvre – but it now paves the way for him to sell Chalet Helora and free up desperately needed cash to pay his escalating legal bills due to claims he sexually assaulted Virginia Roberts.
Andrew bought the seven-bedroom Chalet Helora, in the luxury Swiss resort of Verbier with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in 2014 for £16.6million
In September last year, it was reported that Andrew and the Duchess of York were close to selling the chalet to settle a legal dispute with its former owner, Isabella de Rouvre, 74
Ms de Rouvre said: ‘I sold it two months ago, or was it one. Maybe six weeks ago.
‘Anyway, I sold it to the Yorks and we made an agreement. That is the end of the story thankfully.
‘The war is finished. It is the end of the matter.
‘I have nothing to do with it now. That’s all.
‘I don’t know what they are doing now. They were here at Christmas but I only know that because I read it in the press. I did not see them. So Happy Christmas and that’s that. The end.
‘It was about six weeks ago that the matter was closed. It was November. It’s done. They paid the money and it was done. It is closed for me. The war is over. He has paid the money. We have a war against Covid which is more important but this was a different war.
‘The second payment needed to be paid and that payment is now done. That’s it. You can be sure that’s it. It’s done.
Prince Andrew is pictured in 2001 with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and their children in Verbier, Switzerland
Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London, Britain on March 13, 2001
‘If they live here, they live here. But I don’t know what they do.’
A friend of the socialite said it had been a ‘hugely stressful’ time for Ms de Rouvre.
She said: ‘It has been hugely stressful for Isabelle. She sold the chalet in good faith. She thought they were friends. But it all went bad. It has been upsetting and stressful. She should not have been dragged into all this. It’s a relief for her that the Yorks have now paid and she can sever ties.’
The clearance of debt means Andrew is now free to go ahead with plans to sell the property.
The Duke is needing to find the funds to pay his team of US lawyers as they battle the claims made by Ms Roberts.
Ms Roberts, who now uses her married name of Giuffre, claims that the prince had sex with her three times after she was trafficked by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Andrew has consistently denied the allegations.
Disposal of the chalet will leave him owning no property in the UK or abroad.
Fergie and the couple’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, were seen cavorting around Verbier just after Christmas, enjoying a ski holiday – perhaps their last in Chalet Helora.
The chalet, which boasts seven bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool, holds special memories for the royals.
Prince Andrew walks through New York’s Central Park with Jeffrey Epstein following the latter’s prison term in 2011
Ghislaine Maxwell gives Jeffrey Epstein a foot massage on his private jet dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’. The photo was entered into evidence in Maxwell’s case on December 7 by the US Attorney’s Office
As a family, the Yorks rented Chalet Helora from Ms de Rouvre for winter holidays before deciding to buy it in 2014 as a nest egg for their daughters.
Andrew and Fergie jointly purchased the property for about £18 million.
They reportedly took out a mortgage for £13 million with the remaining £5 million agreed to be paid in cash.
When this sum remained outstanding, the Yorks allegedly made a deal with the socialite to defer the payment until December 2019.
The pair was then expected to pay £6.6 million, consisting of the original sum plus interest.
But despite repeated demands the debt remained unpaid.
In May 2020, Ms de Rouvre was forced to sue the Duke. A protracted legal battle then ensued.
Until the debt hanging over the chalet was paid he was powerless to sell. It is believed he has now found a buyer and the sale is being finalised.
Fergie and the princesses were photographed in the resort last week with their families.
One neighbour said: ‘Maybe that was their last holiday here. To be honest the neighbourhood won’t be too sorry to see the back of them. Once they turn up along comes all the paparazzi from Italy, France, Switzerland, you name it.
‘They are a nuisance blocking the roads and we often have to ask them to turn their engines off. They just sit there with fumes going everywhere polluting our beautiful mountain air.
‘Plus, it’s all rather seedy with Andrew bieng caught up in this sexual abuse scandal. That’s not the image we want in Verbier.’