Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Conservation Adventures of The Hotel Lambert and Alexis Von Rosenberg, Le Baron de Redé

When reading around the Conservation Battle and Restoration Adventures that took place in Paris, around the polemical rebuilding plans of The Hotel Lambert by an Arab Prince in 2009 … I came along the flamboyant personage of Alexis Von Rosenberg, Le baron de Redé, his Luxurious Interiors and consequent sale by Sotheby’s, after his death …
After all, he remarked during an dinner at the Elysée to the Mayor of Paris wife … that he was “trés ocupé” … doing nothing …
Yours … Jeeves

Alexis Dieter Rudolf Oscar von Rosenberg, 3rd Baron de Redé (4 February 1922 – 8 July 2004) was a prominent aristocratic aesthete, collector of French 18th-century furnishings and decorative arts, and socialite both in European circles and in New York. It was not generally realized that he was writing his memoirs. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1972
He was born as Alexis Dieter Rudolf Oscar von Rosenberg in Zürich, Switzerland, and was the son and youngest child of Oscar Adolphe von Rosenberg, a Jewish banker from Austria-Hungary. Alexis de Redé's father became a citizen of Liechtenstein and was given the title of Baron de Redé by the Emperor of Austria in 1916. Oscar von Rosenberg later committed suicide. Alexis's mother was descended from the von Kaullas, an ennobled German-Jewish family, who had been part owners of the Bank of Wurttemberg with the kings of that country. Redé and his brother Hubert von Rosenberg (1919–1942) were educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland. They also had a sister, Marion, born in 1916. Following his father's suicide in 1939, he set off alone for New York. In 1946 he returned to Paris, in the entourage of Elsie de Wolfe, who was now Lady Mendl.
The Baron de Redé was a committed aesthete. In 1949 he moved into the ground floor of the 17th century Hôtel Lambert on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris, and restored the building and its décor. In 2003 he was appointed a commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, for his restoration of the Hôtel Lambert.
Redé's notoriety rested on being the best kept man in Paris: his wealth derived from his lover Arturo Lopez-Willshaw (1900–62), who continued to maintain a formal residence with his wife in Neuilly. The Hôtel Lambert dinner parties were at the center of le tout Paris. Philippe Jullian described the world of Lopez-Willshaw and Redé as like a small 18th-century court: members of the circle included the poet and patron of the Surrealists, Marie-Laure de Noailles (1902–70), musicians such as Henri Sauguet, Georges Auric, and Francis Poulenc, and the artist Christian Berard. Important influences were the interior decorators Georges Geffroy and Victor Grandpierre. Cecil Beaton photographed Nina Ricci's costumes for "the elegant aesthete" at the sensational 1951 Bal oriental given by his friend Carlos de Beistegui at his Venetian palace, the Palazzo Labia.
Redé had met Lopez-Wilshaw in a New York City restaurant. Lopez-Wilshaw was married to his own cousin, Patricia née Lopez-Huici . He offered to take Redé to Paris, where he had a house in Neuilly. "I was not in love," Redé recalled, "but I needed protection, and I was aware that he could provide this." Patricia Lopez-Willshaw (1912–2010) was cool to Redé. In 1962 Redé inherited half of Lopez-Wilshaw's fortune and to manage it he joined Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein in taking control of Leopold, Joseph & Sons, a bank where he served as Deputy Chairman. With Loewenstein he was closely involved in managing the money of the Rolling Stones, and he was a founder of Artemis, an investment fund specializing in the purchase of fine art.

In 1956, at Alexis de Redé's Bal des Têtes, young Yves Saint-Laurent provided many of the headdresses—the Duchess of Windsor being one of the judges—and received a boost to his career. When Diana Vreeland heard of the plans for Redé's upcoming Bal oriental, to be given on 5 December 1969, she promptly contacted the Baron expressing her interest in having the event photographed by Vogue. The guest list was the "creme de la creme" of the International High Society including;

Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild
Baron Guy de Rothschild
Baron David René de Rothschild
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild
Monsieur Antenor Patiño,
Madame Beatriz Patiño
Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes
Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones
Duke of Cadaval
Duchess of Cadaval
Monsieur James Douglas[disambiguation needed]
Madame Pierre (Sao) Schlumberger
Baron Arnaud de Rosnay
Monsieur Guy Baguenault de Puchesse
Vicomtesse de Bonchamps
Madame Vincente Minelli
Mademoiselle Marie Bell
Madame Arturo Lopez-Willshaw
Madame Graham Mattison
Madame Aimée de Heeren
Prince Rupert zu Loëwenstein
Baron Thierry Van Zuylen van Nijevelt
Baroness Gaby Van Zuylen van Nijevelt
Baroness de Günzburg
Baron Gérard de Waldner
Monsieur Oscar de la Renta
Madame Françoise de la Renta
Madame Hélèn Rochas
Madame Michel David-Weill
Madame Jean-Claude Abreu
Madame José Espirito Santo Silva
Madame Angelica Lazenska
Monsieur Serge Lifar
Monsieur Kenneth Jay Lane
Madame Konrad Henkel
Johannes, 11th Prince of Thurn and Taxis
Madame Porfirio Rubirosa
Madame Aileen Mehle
Monsieur Salvador Dalí
Monsieur Valérian Styx-Rybar
Monsieur Jean-François Daigre
Madame Dolores Guinness
Brigitte Bardot
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark

Baron de Rede
10 Jul 2004 in The Telegraph
The Baron de Rede, who died on Thursday aged 82, was the man who restored the Hotel Lambert in Paris, and was variously described as "the Eugene de Rastignac of modern Paris" (by Chips Channon), "La Pompadour de nos jours" (Nancy Mitford) and "the best host in all Europe"; though largely unknown to the general public, he lived a self-imposed life of exquisite perfection, which extended to furniture, food, courtesy and flowers.

Alexis de Rede was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on February 4 1922, the son of Oscar von Rosenberg, a Jewish banker from Austria-Hungary, who became a citizen of Liechtenstein and was given the title of Baron de Rede by the Emperor of Austria in 1916. This was a genuine title, though it did not appear in the Almanach de Gotha, and, inevitably, Nancy Mitford and others questioned its validity. Alexis's mother was descended from the von Kaullas, a German-Jewish family, who had been part owners of the Bank of Wurttemberg with the Kings of that country.

Young Alexis was brought up a Protestant, spending his early years in a suite of 16 rooms in a Zurich hotel with his mother, brother and disadvantaged sister, his father visiting occasionally. When he was nine, his mother left for Vienna, where she was informed that her husband was keeping a mistress in Paris. Three weeks later she died of leukaemia.

Alexis and his brother were sent to Le Rosey, where the future Shah of Persia, Prince Rainier of Monaco, and Richard Helms (later a disgraced Director of the CIA in Washington) were fellow pupils. He was at the school at a period when Naziism was becoming a growing threat, as he discovered when a German friend at the school announced that he would now no longer speak to him.

In 1939, Oscar Rosenberg committed suicide on account of financial problems, leaving his children a small income from a life insurance policy. Alexis found himself in the care of an unsympathetic guardian and preferred to set off by boat to New York, an umbrella from Swaine, Adeney in hand. He checked into a hotel, living on $200 a month. Presently he went to California to try his luck working for an antique dealer, and made friends with the artist Salvador Dali and his wife, but in 1941 returned to New York.

In a New York restaurant he was spotted by Arturo Lopez-Wilshaw, an immensely rich Chilean with a fortune derived from guano, who, although married to his cousin Patricia Lopez-Huici, had enjoyed a number of homosexual relationships with various partners, including one of the Rocky Twins who had danced with Mistinguett in Paris.

Lopez became Rede's protector. Before the war he had bought a house in Neuilly, 14 rue du Centre, which he rebuilt and furnished with priceless treasures. Lopez apparently offered Rede one million dollars to return to Europe with him, though on this matter Rede was reticent.

Rede arrived in Paris in the company of the interior decorator Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe) in June 1946 and was instantly swept into the centre of chic Parisian life. Paris had suffered during the Second World War, and most Parisians were short of money. Lopez's fortune went a long way and meant that he was able to live at a pace way beyond that of most of the French.

The set was always a little aloof from Paris life, entertaining the grand and the rich. The writer Philippe Jullian described their world as like a small 18th-century court, with all the usual intrigues. The more interesting members of the circle included the poet and patron of the Surrealists, Marie-Laure de Noailles (who fell in love with Rede, and seduced him twice), musicians such as Henri Sauguet, Georges Auric, and Francis Poulenc, and the artist Christian Berard. Important influences were the interior decorators Georges Geffroi and Victor Grandpierre.

At this time, Lopez lived with his wife Patricia, a well-known figure in the Paris social world, though there hovered on the scene his pre-war boyfriend, Tony Pawson (who was soon sent packing). The arrival of Rede into this menage was at first uncomfortable, with many of the grand ladies less than inclined to accept his hospitality. But Rede's languid charm and exceptional good looks gradually won him many friends.

His position in Paris life was greatly enhanced by his move, in 1949, into a magnificent apartment in the Hotel Lambert, on the Ile St Louis. This he restored beyond its former glory, filling it with well-chosen treasures, including a desk, the pair of which is owned by the Queen. The Lambert gave him a place to entertain, which he proceeded to do in lavish style for the next 55 years. When Chips Channon dined in the Gallery in 1951, he wrote: "It is fantastic that this sort of thing can exist in this age."

Officially Lopez lived with his wife at Neuilly, but unofficially he lived with Rede at the Lambert, returning home in a basketwork-adorned Rolls-Royce to preside over lavish entertainments. There was also a yacht, La Gaviota, fabulously decorated by Geffroi, in which husband, wife and Rede travelled for many months each year, taking the same friends with them. They were often in St Moritz at the Palace Hotel, maintained an apartment at the Grand Hotel in Venice, and rented different properties for other holidays.

Rede boosted the early careers of designers such as Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent. For a Beaumont Ball in 1949 he commissioned Cardin, then working alone in an upstairs atelier, to create a costume for him. When Rede gave the Bal des Tetes at the Lambert in 1956, at which the Duchess of Windsor was one of the judges, the young Saint Laurent made many of the headdresses, thus meeting many important clients.

The most spectacular entertainment he gave was the Oriental Ball, again at the Lambert, in December 1969. Half-naked men dressed as Nubian slaves bearing torches lined the stairs, and turbaned figures sat on two giant papier-mache elephants in the courtyard. One guest arrived in the back of a lorry, her metal costume being so rigid.

Rede was also a successful businessman in his own right, managing Lopez's financial affairs adroitly. Then, after the death of Lopez in 1962 (Lopez bequeathed half his fortune to his widow, and the other half to Rede), he teamed up with Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein, and other partners, taking control of the bank Leopold, Joseph and Sons, serving as Deputy Chairman. With Loewenstein he was closely involved in managing the money of the Rolling Stones, and he was a founder of Artemis, the firm which acquired and exhibited important works of art, and had many museums as their clients.

It was not long before Rede forged the second great friendship of his life, with Marie-Helene de Rothschild, wife of the banker Baron Guy de Rothschild. They became inseparable, Rede even persuading her to get Baron Guy to buy the whole of the Hotel Lambert in 1975. He collaborated with Marie-Helene on the costume balls she gave at the Chateau de Ferrieres, in the countryside near Paris, notably the Proust Ball and the Surrealist Ball. Guests extended to figures such as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol; the Duchess of Windsor sported a purple feather in her hair, which dipped into the soup and then brushed Baron Guy's face as she turned.

Rede also raced with some success, winning the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) with Rescousse in 1972, and coming second in the same year at the Arc de Triomphe, with Pleben.

Marie-Helene became ill in the 1980s and died in 1996. Thereafter Rede was a rather lonely figure, continuing the lunch parties at the Lambert to the day he died, and going out to concerts and restaurants in the evening. There was no diminution in the luxury with which he surrounded himself, and it was natural for him to take his own sheets with him when he checked into the American Hospital. He remained as laconic as ever, and there was little that happened in the beau monde worldwide about which he was not au courant.

In 2003 he was appointed Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, for his restoration of the Hotel Lambert, and he had recently completed his memoirs.

He never married.

Baron de Redé was for the most part unknown to the public at large. He did, however, live a life of immense luxury which infiltrated all areas of his life. His estate (the contents of his apartments at the Hôtel Lambert) was auctioned after his death by Sotheby's in a specially held sale and realized millions of pounds. Included in the many items, which comprised three catalogues, was a 32-light chandelier expected to sell for between one and two million euros.

He died suddenly at the home of a friend, Carmen Saint, at the age of 82. His memoirs Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé were published posthumously in 2005. Hugo Vickers is credited as editor, but was also the ghostwriter.

Le Hotel Lambert

Hôtel Lambert is a hôtel particulier, a grand mansion townhouse, on the Quai Anjou on the eastern tip of the Île Saint-Louis,
The house on an irregular site at the tip of the Île Saint-Louis in the heart of Paris was designed by architect Louis Le Vau.[1] It was built between 1640 and 1644, originally for the financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert (d. 1644) and continued by his younger brother Nicolas Lambert, later president of the Chambre des Comptes. For Nicolas Lambert, the interiors were decorated by Charles Le Brun, François Perrier, and Eustache Le Sueur, producing one of the finest, most-innovative, and iconographically coherent examples of mid-17th-century domestic architecture and decorative painting in France.

Is France Doing Enough to Save Its Historic Buildings?
By Jeffrey T. Iverson / Paris Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 in Time
The 17th century Hotel Lambert, which belongs to the Emir of Qatar, on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. The Emir plans a multimillion-dollar renovation which has been approved by French Culture Minister Christine Albanel

Voltaire once called it a home fit for a king — and for a few hundred years, it was. After the Hôtel Lambert was built in 1639 by architect Louis Le Vau on Paris's Ile Saint Louis, the mansion played host to French nobility, exiled Polish princes and members of the Rothschild family of banking fame. But for Qatari Prince Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, who bought the property from the Rothschilds in 2007 for $88 million, the welcome has been far from regal.
The prince's plan to restore the mansion to its 17th century glory while adding air-conditioning, an elevator and an underground parking lot has run into opposition from preservationists, who say the project would be disastrous. Opponents scored a temporary victory in September when a Paris court blocked the $60 million renovations until a final verdict can be reached — probably in the next few months. Whatever the outcome, critics say that the Culture Ministry's initial approval of the project points to a serious — and worrying — unraveling of France's system of architectural protections. "[This] raises doubts about the ability of our country to manage its own heritage," says Pierre Housieaux, president of Paris Historique, an architectural heritage association.
The objection to the prince's plan is largely twofold: Paris Historique, which took the developers to court after the government signed off on the project, says the underground parking lot would threaten the stability of the now-dilapidated mansion. The prince's desire to restore the mansion to the way it looked in the 17th century has also upset Polish officials, who say this would require removing architectural details that were added when the Polish royal family owned the building from 1843 to 1975.
Given the level of opposition, critics are puzzled by the government's quick approval of the renovations in June. Earlier this year, former Culture Minister Christine Albanel defended the plans, saying "the Hôtel Lambert is not a museum that is being transformed into a home. It was already a home. The renovations will be done according to the rule book." But art historian Didier Rykner believes that France's "political and diplomatic" objectives may have come into play. Since last year, President Nicolas Sarkozy has been trying to win multibillion-dollar energy deals with Qatar and new investment from the Persian Gulf.
Opponents are also concerned that Paris is now sacrificing heritage for economic gain. The government has struggled to shoulder the cost of upkeeping its $55 billion property portfolio, forcing it to sell off several historic palaces in recent years, much to the anger of some lawmakers. "These buildings ... are part of the historic and artistic patrimony of France and cannot be handed over to just anybody," legislator Lionel Tardy said during a 2007 parliamentary session.
In July, the National Assembly passed an amendment that would eliminate the need for the Architectes des Bâtiments de France (ABF), a specialized corps of state architects, to approve new construction projects in France's 600 protected heritage zones. Former Culture Minister Jack Lang decried the vote, saying it was pushed by Sarkozy's party under pressure from property-development lobbies and mayors with building projects the ABF would have turned down. (The amendment was rejected by the Senate and is now before a conference committee.) Even before the vote, Rykner says the government had begun to undermine the ABF, pointing to a case last year in which the Culture Ministry granted a permit to demolish a staircase in a protected 18th century building over the objections of the group.
Preservationists are hopeful that the Hôtel Lambert case marks a turning point. "I'm convinced this will be a sign of change, because we see now that the French are conscious of their riches," Housieaux says. But the prince isn't going down without a fight — he's preparing for a possible appeal. "It's been two years now since the Hôtel was purchased and there are still at least two or three years of renovations ahead," says Eric Ginter, al-Thani's lawyer. "At some point he would like to put his slippers on and settle in."

Published: October 7, 2009 in The New York Times
The Lambert was built as a private residence (a “hôtel particulier”) for the Lambert family and was finished in 1644, when it bordered Parisian fields and cows. But it has been through various owners, who have made various architectural changes, some of them disastrous. The building was most recently used as a kind of apartment complex for friends of the Rothschild family, and some of the most beautiful rooms, with frescoed ceilings and 18th-century paneling, are moldy and cracked.
The plumbing is outdated and leaks; the original floors are a mess, or have been replaced. Even a free-standing silver bathtub, set in a huge room with a view of the river, is pitted and tarnished.
The stupendous “Gallery of Hercules,” with its paintings by Charles Le Brun, who also worked at Versailles, is dark with smoke and age; restorers have cleaned small sample sections, suddenly revealing the glossy leaves of a holly tree. In the famous “Cabinet des Muses,” which once housed five original canvases by Eustache Le Sueur that now hang in the Louvre, a small section of wall has been cleaned of dirt, paint and gilt to reveal a sky blue ground that matches the paintings.
The bedroom of the late Baron Alexis de Rédé, who entertained lavishly here before his death in 2004, still has its Moorish-designed walls and a false ceiling of billowing gray taffeta, making it look like an Oriental tent of the kind that might make Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi feel queasy.
Now some preservationists are up in arms over the plans of Prince Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani to restore the 43,000-square-foot building and its finest features, while modernizing it for his family and his extensive collection of 17th- and 18th-century French art. The prince plans to spend about $60 million to renovate the place, including its unusual suspended garden, built over two service floors.
While some of the fiercest discussion is about how the prince plans to park his car in the interior courtyard and whether he can put in another elevator, there is also a small cloud of xenophobia hanging over the controversy, which is currently stuck in the courts.
Last month, in response to a suit by an association of preservationists, “Paris Historique” — supported by a group of historians, architects and a handful of celebrities, including the actress Michèle Morgan, who lived at the Lambert for 20 years — a Paris administrative judge suspended the work permit granted to the prince in June. A final decision is expected in a few months.
Opponents see the plans as a threat to France’s “patrimoine,” or its cultural heritage — a matter not taken lightly here. They say that some of the prince’s proposed modifications would ruin the building, and they view him as an intruder with little appreciation for the Lambert’s architectural value.
“It’s a true pearl, and like any true pearl, you have to protect it,” said Pierre Housieaux, the leader of “Paris Historique,” which recently collected 8,000 signatures in an online petition decrying the prince’s project.
“It is not just a postcard,” Mr. Housieaux said. “There is the work of man behind it: there is masonry, there are stone carvings, there is woodwork.”
The French government, with close ties to Qatar, has supported the restoration and modernization.
In France, restoration of protected buildings must be overseen by a state-certified architect. For the Lambert, that job belongs to Alain-Charles Perrot, the chief architect for historic monuments. The polemic surrounding the Lambert, he said, has been political from the start. “It was fomented by people who are taking a very limited view of things,” he said. “You can’t keep a building like this one in a freezer.”
He sees misplaced patriotism and a touch of racism at work, suggesting that opponents are seeing an unwelcome foreign intrusion and a loss of what they consider to be rightfully theirs. “The project is attacked because, behind the scenes, the French can’t stand that the people buying hôtels particuliers in France are Arab princes,” Mr. Perrot said.
He spoke of the damage already inflicted on the building over the centuries, citing the four 19th-century square windows on the top story as an example of something he would remove.
His deputy, Florent Richard, showed visitors to the palace thick books of architectural drawings and renovation appraisals that describe the original structure of each door, window, floor, ceiling, fresco and piece of hardware, as well as what has been altered and what various restorers propose to do now. The appraisals alone have cost $1.4 million, Mr. Richard said, arguing that no hasty decisions have been made.
In response to complaints, plans for parking and an elevator have been altered, and Mr. Richard said that the heating and cooling system would be environmentally responsible and keep the interior of the vast building, with its art and frescoes, at a stable temperature and humidity.
“Everything in the building has been checked,” Mr. Richard said. “We even managed to date the beams.” All the builders have worked together with the restoration experts, he said, “the carpenter with the historian.”
The house has a grand history. In the 18th century, the Marquise du Châtelet, a well-known mathematician, organized her literary salons here and used it for trysts with Voltaire.
Rousseau tutored the owner’s children; the painter Eugène Delacroix was a regular guest, as well as the composer Frédéric Chopin, who is said to have composed some of his “Polonaises” at the Lambert.
Mr. Khalifa al-Thani’s acquisition of the Lambert comes in the context of France’s close diplomatic relationship with Qatar. Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first Arab head of state invited to Élysée Palace by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. The Socialist mayor of Paris recently encouraged Qataris to invest here.
But Mr. Perrot said he believed that the controversy could lead Mr. Khalifa al-Thani to abandon his plans.

Parisians castigate 'ignorant' plans for Hôtel Lambert
Lizzy Davies in Paris, Sunday 23 August 2009
According to a group of furious Parisian luminaries, the Hôtel Lambert is facing 'imminent disaster'. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
For centuries it has been a haven of cultural refinement, a stunningly beautiful mansion in which Chopin composed, George Sand wrote and Voltaire lived with his mistress.
But according to a group of furious Parisian luminaries, the Hôtel Lambert is facing "imminent disaster" from the modernising zeal of its new owner, a member of the Qatari royal family.
Plans to renovate the 17th-century building and fit it out with an array of modern conveniences such as lifts, air-conditioning and an underground car park have provoked the rage of architects, historians and glamorous former residents, who have gone to court in an attempt to halt them.
Armed with a petition of about 8,000 signatures from concerned citizens, lawyers for the Historic Paris association are arguing that the plans should be abandoned in the interests of national pride, and denounce the French government's move to approve the project as "illegal".
"This decision, which bears witness to an intolerable ignorance of the nature of a structure this significant … raises doubts about the ability of our country to take care of the management of its own heritage," said Jean-François Cabestan, an architect, and Pierre Housieaux, president of Historic Paris, in a letter of protest.
Ever since it was put up for sale by banking magnate Guy de Rothschild shortly before his death in 2007 and swiftly snapped up for an estimated €80m (£69m) by a brother of the Emir of Qatar, the future of the Lambert has been the subject of frenzied speculation by those who believe its history as intellectual playground is too special for it to be ignored.
Architects and politicians from the Commission for Old Paris first sounded the alarm bells in December, when news of the planned modernisation first emerged.
But those concerns were passed over in June by the government, which insists the building is in a "very bad state" and needs urgent work to save it from further decay.
Speaking in court last week, a lawyer for the Lambert's owner said the plans put forward were "exemplary".
But that view is not shared by his distinguished neighbours on the Ile St Louis. "[The works] risk ruining this exceptional architectural singularity," said the composer Henri Dutilleux, who has lived nearby for more than 50 years.
He has been joined in his protest by a string of celebrities including the comedian Guy Bedos, singer Georges Moustaki and film star Michèle Morgan, who owned an apartment in the Lambert for 20 years.
Reiterating the concerns of architects who warn that radical attempts to alter the building's existing infrastructure could prove problematic, the female star of Marcel Carné's Le Quai des Brumes accused the new owners of "snobbery".
"They should have built outside of Paris, they would have had all the space they liked. But maybe that would have been less chic, less elegant," Morgan told Prestigium magazine.
"The Ile Saint Louis is extraordinary; the Hôtel Lambert is the icing on the cake," Morgan added.
Commentators say the acquisition of the Lambert is an indication of how France's close diplomatic ties with Qatar are increasingly yielding commercial advantages. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first Arab head of state invited to the Elysée palace by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, and the two are said to enjoy a close working relationship which dates back to the president's time as interior minister.
A spokesman for the court hearing the case said a decision was not expected before next month.

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