PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ?: Mohamed Al-Fayed has squelched speculation in Paris that he sold his Paris jewel, the Ritz hotel, to Qatari investors. A spokesperson for the colorful business titan told WWD “the rumors are unfounded. Mr. Al-Fayed has not sold the Ritz Paris.”

A Paris-based spokesman for the famed institution on the Place Vendôme also denied it had changed hands: “The Ritz has not been sold and the Ritz is not for sale.”

This story first appeared in the April 12, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Qatari investors have been snapping up trophy assets across Europe, and are poised to buy the French department store chain Printemps, adding to a bouquet of luxury holdings that range from the Valentino fashion house to the Martinez hotel in Cannes.

In 2010, Al-Fayed ended his 25-year rein at Harrods by selling the landmark British retailer to Qatar Holding, an investment company linked to the royal family of the Gulf state, for 1.5 billion pounds, or $2.22 billion at current exchange, including about 600 million pounds, or $888 million, in property-backed debt.

A spokesman for Qatar Holdings had no comment Thursday about the Ritz rumor.

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