Said sold a Modigliani portrait for £38.5m at Sotheby's last summer, having bought it 30 years earlier for £1.9m. A Syrian-born fixer, he smoothed the way for the £43bn al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, having come to London in the late 1960s, initially helping his brother to run a kebab shop. The son of an eye surgeon, Said, 77, later met two young Saudi princes, Bandar and Khalid, and began to advise them on their financial affairs. He was well rewarded for his help. Said's Saudi Arabian businesses focus on construction, infrastructure, airports, desalination plants, housing and hospitals.
He and his English-born wife Rosemary divide their time between Monaco, Paris and Britain where he has a £30m Oxfordshire mansion and a 3,000-acre estate. He is not enamoured of Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from some Muslim countries, pointing out that the late Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, had a Syrian father. Said loves all things British and has lavished money on UK institutions and charitable work, paying £70m towards establishing the Said Business School in Oxford in 1998.
In late 2005 Fleming Family & Partners, which manages money for wealthy dynasties, acquired Sagitta Asset Management, which handled assets for Said and had £850m under management. His Bermuda operation, Said Holdings, bought a long lease on a Canary Wharf site in 2009 for £208m, but a deal to sell it in 2015 for £250m fell through. His investment in the scandal-hit Brazilian oil company Petrobras has not gone smoothly: in 2015 his Guernsey-domiciled Al Shams Investments filed a suit in a New York court seeking damages against Petrobras. He has also helped French trader Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC) establish a foothold in the Brazilian farming business, particularly in the sugar cane and ethanol sectors. We stick with Said's £1.38bn valuation, despite the hefty artwork price achieved at auction.