Adnan Khashoggi, the man whom one of his many powerful friends once alluded to as having "no laws, no skies, no limits", and widely considered as the world's richest arms dealer, died on Tuesday due to complications from Parkinson's disease and a host of other ailments.
Considered the most influential broker of his era, Khashoggi straddled borders and continents with ease as he brokered arms deals with countries, arms manufacturers and private clients without making distinctions. His investments in real estate and banking were also robust wealth generators.
Equally prominent was his high-flying lifestyle, astounding in its luxuriousness for friends and associates who benefited from his largesse, while shocking for his critics who called his champagne and caviar parties the depths of decadence.
Khashoggi was said to do his deals at his parties that lasted for days, often in the company of Hollywood stars, while rivals in the business sweated it out in secret, a report by the Daily Mail said on Wednesday.
Khashoggi was born in the holy city of Mecca on July 25, 1935, one of six children. His father, the court doctor to King Ibn Saud, was of Turkish descent, leaving the family outside the web of connections, obligations and suspicions in the Saudi court.
At the peak of his wealth, he is said to have presided over 12 estates, some in Europe and the Middle East; a 180,000-acre ranch in Kenya; and a two-floor Manhattan residence at Olympic Towers, next to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, that was made from 16 existing apartments.
The New York Times in a report on his death on Wednesday placed Khashoggi's fabulous wealth in the range of $4 billion.
The notorious middleman was also linked to two former Indian Prime Ministers - Rajiv Gandhi and Chandra Shekhar, and godman Chandraswami who died last month, who he considered his guru and friend.
"His appetites were gargantuan, beyond the limits of vulgarity. At the peak of his wealth, he presided over 12 estates, including some in Europe and the Middle East; a 180,000-acre ranch in Kenya; and a two-floor Manhattan residence at Olympic Towers, next to St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, that was made from 16 existing apartments," the Times report said.
The Times noted that Khashoggi owned the world's largest yacht — used in a James Bond film and later sold to Donald J. Trump — and three lavishly refitted commercial-size jets. His parties were known for rivers of champagne, bevies of women, international celebrities and endless personal attention from the host, known to his many friends as A. K.
Khashoggi first shot into notoriety after coming under investigation for brokering a secret sale of weapons to the US government to Iran when that country was supposed to be facing an arms embargo, the Daily Mail said.
Ronald Reagan's administration had triggered the sale as part of a complex deal in the 1980s that led Iran to release US hostages and fund the Contra rebellion in Nicaragua on behalf of the US.