Princess Diana's ex-lover, art dealer Oliver Hoare, dies at 73
From a casual affair to a turbulent controversy which threw Diana under the retrospection of both the public and the royal family, Oliver Hoare played a major role in her life
Princess Diana's former lover, art dealer Oliver Hoare, has died of cancer in France at the age of 73. Of all the men who had courted the royal, it was probably Hoare who had the most impact on the Princess' life. A friend of Prince Charles, Hoare had begun courting Diana following her father's death in 1992.
Diana was apparently obsessed with the man who was almost 16 years older than her and was reportedly married at the time he and Diana started their affair. The Princess met the old Etonian art dealer during Ascot week in 1985 when Hoare and his wife were at the Windsor Castle as guests to the Queen. Their relationship went through several dark moments including one when Diana would constantly enquire about Camila, in spite of which Hoare and his wife continued entertaining the Prince of Wales and Diana's archenemy, Camila, for dinners.
However, their affair soon came to the limelight when Hoare was caught behind some plants in the hallway after a fire alarm went off around 3:30 a.m. at the Kensington Palace in 1992. The incident soon sparked rumors, following which Diana's apparent obsession with Hoare grew gradually. There were also reports that stated that the Princess would call Hoare several times in a day, sometimes from the Palace and sometimes from a local booth. However, during the Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, the Princess stated that although she would call him several times it wasn't done in a manner that would indicate "obsession".
The Princess said, "I was reputed to have made 300 telephone calls in a very short space of time which, bearing in mind my lifestyle at that time, made me a very busy lady. But that again was a huge move to discredit me and very nearly did me in, the injustice of it, because I did my own homework on that subject, and consequently found out that a young boy had done most of them. But I read that I'd done them all. Mr. Hoare told me that his lines were being tapped by the local police station. He said you know, don't ring. So I didn't, but somebody clearly did."
It wasn't Diana alone who was involved in scandals. A few years after the Princess' death, Hoare was pulled into an official inquiry into the financial dealings of Sheikh Saud Al Thani of Qatar, the world's biggest collector. Hoare was accused of charging far more than the actual price for the art pieces. His company had apparently charged 5.5 million pounds for a 17th CE jade pendant which dated back to the Mughal Era. He also charged a whopping 7.5 million pounds for an 18th CE diamond ornament which was sold for 1.3 million pounds, far less than what Hoare had asked for. He had also charged $12 million for a 217-carat Mughal carved emerald with invocations and with poppies, dated 1695, which was sold for £1.5 million.
Although their relationship was turbulent enough to have involved a police investigation in 1994, it did not last long as Hoare eventually stuck with his wife, the French oil heiress Diane de Waldner, to whom he was married for almost 29 years.