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Tragic Princess Diana's Mercedes-Benz S-Class Is Worth Over $11 Million, But Lost
This week marked the 25th anniversary of the death of the People’s Princess, as she was known. HRM Princess of Wales, Lady Di, died after a crash in one of the Paris underground tunnels, as her car was being chased by the paparazzi. To this day, countless questions have remained unanswered.

Tragic Princess Diana's Mercedes-Benz S-Class Is Worth Over $11 Million, But Lost

The rented Mercedes S-Class after first-responders cut it to recover the injured Princess Diana. She died on the way to the hospitalPrincess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1Princess Diana's 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1The rented Mercedes S-Class after first-responders cut it to recover the injured Princess Diana. She died on the way to the hospital
While millions of people from all over the world gathered to mourn together or chose to do it privately, by celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of the most iconic members of the British Royal Family, millions also began asking the same questions all over again. This isn’t the most pressing of the lot, but it does speak volumes for how blundering the years-long international investigation into the accident was: where is the wreck of the limousine that carried the Princess to her death?

On August 31, 1997, the Princess and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed arrived in Paris, France, by airplane. They went out to dinner at the Ritz, but their presence caused such a commotion among patrons and the local paparazzi that they decided to go to his apartment, where no one would gawk at them. By then, the Princess had been divorced from Prince Charles for exactly one year and, according to reports, was planning a new life with Fayed, which may or may not have included a surprise proposal that same night and a secret pregnancy. Also by then, she had already expressed fears that the Royal Family, the Firm as she called it, would seek to eliminate her from the big picture – in a staged car accident, no less.

In an attempt to avoid attracting even more attention, it was arranged for the couple to leave in a second car, while their official ride and another shadow vehicle would leave from the front door, serving as decoy. Diana and Fayed got into a black Mercedes-Benz S280 they had rented from Etoile Limousines, with Henry Paul in the driver seat and Trevor Rees-Jones, from Fayed’s personal security team, in the front passenger seat.

Minutes later, in the tunnel under Place de l’Alma, after a brief collision with a white Fiat Uno and while desperately trying to shake off an entire motorcade of paparazzi vehicles, Paul lost control of the limousine and crashed, at a speed reportedly as high as 120 mph / 193 kph. Diana, Fayed and himself would die in the crash, with Rees-Jones being the only one to survive – because he’d been wearing his seatbelt.

The Mercedes limousine has been lost for years, and its rightful owner, Jean-Francois Musa, the owner of Etoile Limousines, is again speaking to the media, asking the authorities to return the wreck to him. Throughout the years, Musa has launched several legal attempts to recover the wreck, on the claims that he wants to have it displayed in a museum. So far, he’s heard nothing – neither from the French nor the British authorities.

So where is the car? That’s the multi-million dollar question, in the most literal sense.

The Mirror reports that, if ever found, it could sell on the collector market for as much as $11.6 million, which, given the notoriety of the case, is hardly a surprising amount. There is a very special niche of the collector market where an item like this would fetch a fortune – not despite, but because of its morbid past. The reported amount casts some doubt over Musa’s claim that his attempts to recover it is driven by pure historical interest.

Initially, the limo was kept with the Parisian authorities, as they looked into the causes of the crash. It was then dispatched to the UK for a separate investigation and, in 2009, after several attempts to keep it here, was returned to France. Both governments had promised that the wreck would be destroyed at the end of the investigation, out of respect for the members of the family.

Then, in 2017, The Sun conducted a private investigation and found that the vehicle was still around, kept inside a container just miles outside of Paris, at a junkyard that doubled as a homeless encampment. The two front doors were missing but, otherwise, the car was in the same condition as after the crash.

Despite the claims, the tabloid never obtained photos of the wreck, and it hasn’t been spotted since – but it did become the topic of a later documentary. You will find it in full below; it argues that the same S280 had been totaled in a crash in Val D’Oise in December 1994, then put back together and re-registered for road use.

“It’s legally mine,” Musa says, “I have no idea where the car is. All I know is it is legally mine and obviously I want it back. It should have been returned by now but that hasn’t proved possible. I always owned it outright.”

Musa has always denied the ‘94 crash story, saying he bought the car new from Mercedes. To his knowledge, there was never anything wrong with it.

Officially, Princess Diana’s death was ruled an accident, caused by speeding and drunk driving, and the reckless on-road behavior of the paparazzi. Her death was a tragedy of historic proportions, and it’s probably for the best if the limo never sees the light of day again.



Editor's note: For illustrative purposes, photos in the gallery also show the latest Princess Diana collectible to emerge on the specialized market: her Black 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1.

 
 
 
 
 

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