Duchess of York’s £5m Mayfair mews purchase ‘outrages’ chalet owner who sold for cut price

The Duke and Duchess of York - Getty Images Europe
The Duke and Duchess of York - Getty Images Europe

A chalet owner who accepted a lower payment after selling to the Duke and Duchess of York has said she is “outraged” after the Duchess bought a Mayfair house worth £5 million.

Isabelle de Rouvre, a French socialite, endured a protracted dispute with the couple over the 2014 sale of the luxury property in Verbier, Switzerland.

Despite being owed approximately £6.8 million by the Duke and his former wife, she ultimately agreed to a lower payment of £3.4 million.

This was partly because she believed the Yorks were short of cash, and that the situation had been worsened by the Duke’s legal difficulties relating to his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who took his own life in 2019.

Ms De Rouvre, 74, said in January: “The war is finished.”

However, last week it emerged that the Duchess, 62, had purchased a £5 million Mayfair home from the Duke of Westminster.

It was reported that the property was bought as an investment opportunity for her daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

‘It is a dirty story’

Ms De Rouvre has now described the purchase as “incredible and unbelievable”, saying she believed the Duchess “didn’t have a penny”.

She told The Sunday Times: “I am outraged that I am now told she has spent millions on another property.

“It is just incredible and the whole story unbelievable. It is a dirty story as far as I am concerned.”

The Yorks asked to buy the seven-bed Verbier chalet, which had six full-time staff and an indoor swimming pool, sauna and bar, after renting it regularly for holidays for approximately £22,000 a week.

They took out a mortgage of £13.25 million, agreeing to pay the remaining £5 million in cash instalments, with accrued interest.

This ultimately amounted to around £6.8 million, but Ms De Rouvre settled for about half.

 The chalet in Verbier - AFP
The chalet in Verbier - AFP

Ms De Rouvre said that, after getting lawyers involved, she had decided not to pursue the full payment in part because of the legal case brought by Virginia Guiffre against Prince Andrew, alleging that he had sex with her when she was 17, which he denies.

The Duke is believed to have borrowed money from family members in order to pay Ms Giuffre, 38, a sum estimated to be £10 million, in March to settle the case.

Ms De Rouvre said this weekend: “I understood they didn’t have the money and believed he would be going to prison in America, so I thought it was best to get what I could.”

The financial woes of the Duchess, who on Sunday declined to respond to Ms De Rouvre’s comments, have been well known for years.

In 2010 she described herself as being “continually on the verge of financial bankruptcy”.

However, the Duchess recently successfully published a Mills & Boon romance novel, Her Heart for a Compass, and has signed a 22-book deal as a children’s author.