Prince Andrew was mired in more legal woes last night as he and the Duchess of York face being sued for millions over claims they have missed payments on their luxury chalet.
The couple bought shares in the property in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier in 2014 for about £13 million.
But it is alleged they missed a deadline on December 31 by which another chunk of that sum was supposed to be paid.
In the deeds of sale, seen by the French-language newspaper Le Temps, about £5 million had been due. That figure is now £6.7 million with interest.
It understood the Yorks do not own the property outright, but simply bought a share of it.
A photo taken on May 7, 2020 shows the wooden chalet Helora, owned since 2014 by Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in the Alpine resort of Verbier, western Switzerland
The Duke of York leaves his chalet with his daughter Eugenie and boyfriend Jack Brooksbank after holidaying in Verbier in the Swiss alps in January 2015
Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and family outside their chalet in Verbier, Switzerland on his 43rd birthday
Now the original owner – who retains a share in the chalet – has run out of patience and started court proceedings.
A source close to the Yorks said: ‘They (the original owners) have really gone for the jugular and want their money.’
Intriguingly, a friend of the duke last night said the couple had made plans to sell the chalet.
The proceeds were intended to clear any outstanding debt, the source said, and that intention had been indicated to the previous owner.
Pictured: Prince Andrew on a skiing holiday in Verbier, Switzerland on Valentine’s Day in 2007
Pictured: Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and family at Verbier ski resort in Verbier, Switzerland
Pictured: Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and family in Verbier on his 38th birthday
Disastrous interview that made him a royal reject
It has been a torrid few months for the Duke of York.
First came his disastrous decision to speak publicly about his relationship with his former associate and convicted paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein.
During his interview with Emily Maitlis, Andrew, 60, denied having sex with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts in London.
The BBC Newsnight interview was described as a ‘car crash’ and he was accused of failing to express sympathy for Epstein’s victims.
The Prince then faced fresh humiliation when, in excruciating detail, Miss Roberts claimed she felt sick at realising she was expected to have sex with him.
Charities and associates deserted him and he was forced to step back from Royal life.
In January, he was accused of ignoring requests from the FBI for help in their inquiry into Epstein’s sexual abuse.
Andrew’s 60th birthday that month was very low key after the Queen mothballed plans to hold a Buckingham Palace banquet.
That the legal proceedings had been made public had caused ‘some bafflement’, the friend added.
Le Temps claimed the money was outstanding ‘despite messages from Sarah promising that payment would be made’.
Law firm Etude du Ritz has been instructed by the owner to launch legal proceedings, the newspaper reported.
A spokesman for the duke said: ‘We can confirm there is a dispute between the two parties in this matter. The contractual details remain the subject of a confidentiality agreement and prevent further discussion.’
The duke and duchess, who divorced in 1996 but remain close, fly off to the Swiss Alps with their daughters – Eugenie, 30, and Beatrice, 31 – for a skiing holiday most years after Christmas.
Called Chalet Helora, the seven-bedroom luxury lodge previously boasted six full-time staff and was available to rent for more than £22,000 a week.
Said to be decorated with chic antiques, the master bedroom is draped in animal furs, and there is a 650 sq ft indoor swimming pool, sauna, sun terrace, boot-room, bar and lavish entertaining area.
Neighbours include Sir Richard Branson and singer James Blunt.
In 2015, the Daily Mail exclusively revealed that Andrew and his ex-wife had secretly splashed out on the Swiss ski chalet.
They bought the property as a ‘family investment’, with the deeds listing them simply as Andrew York and Sarah Ferguson.
In a BBC interview with Emily Maitlis Prince Andrew denied ever having had sexual relations with Virginia Roberts and said he could not remember the photograph ever being taken
The lawyers representing Andrew’s accuser Virginia Roberts (pictured central with the Prince) say they will not let ‘certain individuals’ escape liability through the agreement.
The chalet was split in two for the sale because, according to local regulations, it was too big for a sole foreign purchaser to buy outright.
Legally, Andrew has the upper floor and attic space, Sarah the lower floor and basement. They share the land.
The purchase immediately raised questions as to how they could afford it.
Andrew is not known to have a vast private fortune, while Sarah had only recently managed to clear £5 million in debts she ran up through a series of disastrous business investments.
Lawyer David Boies (pictured central) named ‘Prince Andrew or others to whom our clients were trafficked’ among those individuals who could be sued by victims like Virginia Giuffre (second left).
It is thought it was financed with the £15 million proceeds from the sale of Sunninghill Park, the former marital home given to Andrew and Fergie by the Queen as a wedding present in 1986.
They lived on the 12-bedroom estate in Berkshire as a family, with the duchess staying on with the girls following the 1996 divorce.
Fergie moved out ten years later before it was sold to Kazakhstan oligarch Timur Kulibayev in 2007 for well above market value.
Andrew spent about £7.5 million on improvements to Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, where both now live despite their divorce, meaning only half the sale proceeds would be left, at most.
A source close to the duchess confirmed to the Mail that she and Andrew had bought the chalet jointly as a ‘nest egg’ for their children.
‘Neither of them have their own property and wanted to buy the chalet as an asset to leave to their children,’ the source said in 2015.
Philippe Loretan, partner at Etude du Ritz, declined to comment when contacted.
The new legal proceedings add to 60-year-old Andrew’s woes.
The prince stepped back from all royal duties in November after a car-crash Newsnight interview over his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, claims that when she was 17, she slept with the duke on three occasions at the financier’s behest.
Andrew emphatically denies the allegation and that he knew of any wrong-doing by Epstein.