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Felix Yusupov

Felix Yusupov

Russian prince
Felix Yusupov
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Russian prince
A.K.A. Feliks Feliksovich Yusupov, Felix Felixovich Yousoupov, Prince Yousoup...
Was Military officer Patron Patron of the arts Businessperson Entrepreneur Journalist Opinion journalist Criminal
From Russia France Czech Republic
Type Arts Business Crime Journalism Military
Gender male
Birth 11 March 1887, Saint Petersburg, Tsardom of Russia
Death 27 September 1967, Paris, France (aged 80 years)
Star sign Pisces
Family
Mother: Zinaida Yusupova
Father: Feliks Sumarokov-Elston
Spouse: Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia
Children: Irina Yusupova
Felix Yusupov
The details

Biography

Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston (Russian: Князь Фе́ликс Фе́ликсович Юсу́пов, Граф Сумаро́ков-Эльстон; 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1887 – 27 September 1967) was a Russian aristocrat, prince and count from the Yusupov family. He is best known for participating in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin and marrying the niece of Tsar Nicholas II.

Early life

He was born in the Moika Palace in Saint Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. His father was Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston, the son of Count Felix Nikolaievich Sumarokov-Elston. Zinaida Yusupova, his mother, was the last of the Yusupov line, of Tatar origin, and very wealthy. For the Yusupov name not to die out, his father (5 October 1856, Saint Petersburg – 10 June 1928, Rome, Italy) was granted the title and the surname of his wife, Princess Zinaida Yusupova upon their marriage, on 4 April 1882 in Saint Petersburg.

The Yusupov family, richer than any of the Romanovs, had acquired their wealth generations earlier. It included four palaces in Saint Petersburg, three palaces in Moscow, 37 estates in different parts of Russia (Kursk, Voronezh and Poltava), coal and iron-ore mines, plants and factories, flour mills and oil fields on the Caspian Sea.

The family estate near Moscow; Arkhangelskoye Palace

Felix led a flamboyant life and is thought to have been bisexual. When he addresses this claim in his book Lost Splendor, however, he flat out denied it. From 1909 to 1913, he studied Forestry and later English at University College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club, and established the Oxford Russian Club. Yusupov was living on 14 King Edward Street, had a Russian cook, a French driver, an English valet, a housekeeper, and he spent much of his time partying. He owned three horses, a macaw and a bulldog called Punch. He smoked hashish, played polo and became friendly with Luigi Franchetti, a piano player, and Jacques de Beistegui, who both moved in. At some time, Yusupov got acquainted with Albert Stopford and Oswald Rayner. He rented an apartment in Curzon Street, Mayfair, and met several times with the ballerina Anna Pavlova, who lived in Hampstead.

Portrait of Felix Yusupov (1903) by Valentin Serov

Marriage

The Yusupov family in 1901: Prince Felix, Prince Nicholas, Count Felix Felixovich Sumarkov-Elston and Princess Zinaida.

Back in Saint Petersburg, he married Princess Irina of Russia, the Tsar's only niece, in the Anichkov Palace on 22 February 1914. The bride was wearing a veil that had belonged to Marie Antoinette. The Yusupovs went on their honeymoon to Cairo, Jerusalem, London and Bad Kissingen, where his parents were staying.

World War I

When World War I broke out in August 1914, both were briefly detained in Berlin. Irina asked her relative, Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, to intervene with her father-in-law, Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser refused to permit the Yusupov family to leave but offered them a choice of three country estates to live in for the duration of the war. Felix's father appealed to the Spanish ambassador in Germany and won permission for them to return to Russia via neutral Denmark to the Grand Duchy of Finland and from there to Saint Petersburg The Yusupovs' only daughter, Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova, nicknamed Bébé, was born on 21 March 1915. Bébé was largely raised by her paternal grandparents until she was nine. She was very spoiled by them. Her unstable upbringing caused her to become "capricious," according to Felix. Felix and Irina, raised mainly by nannies themselves, were ill-suited to take on the day-to-day burdens of child-rearing. Bebe adored her father but had a more distant relationship with her mother.

After the death of his brother, Felix was the heir to an immense fortune. Consulting with family members about how best to administer the money and property, he decided to devote time and money to charitable works to help the poor. The losses at the Eastern Front were enormous, and so Felix converted a wing of the Liteyny Palace into a hospital for wounded soldiers.

Felix was able to avoid entering military service himself by taking advantage of a law exempting only-sons from serving. Irina's first cousin, Grand Duchess Olga, to whom she had been close when they were girls, was disdainful of Felix: "Felix is a 'downright civilian,' dressed all in brown, walked to and fro about the room, searching in some bookcases with magazines and virtually doing nothing; an utterly unpleasant impression he makes – a man idling in such times," Olga wrote to Nicholas on 5 March 1915 after paying a visit to the Yusupovs. In February 1916 Felix began studies at the elite Page Corps military academy and tried joining a regiment in August.

Killing of Rasputin

"Yusupov's plan, as he described it in his book, was to seek closer acquaintance with the healer Grigori Rasputin, and win his confidence. He asked Rasputin to cure a slight malady from which he suffered." Yusupov first approached the lawyer Vasily Maklakov, who agreed to advise Felix. Yusopov then approached Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an army officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment who was recovering from injuries who was a friend of his mother. Grand Duke Dmitri received Yusupov's suggestion with alacrity, and his alliance was welcomed as indicating that the murder would not be a demonstration against the [Romanov] dynasty.

On the night of 29/30 December (NS) 1916, Felix, Dmitri, Vladimir Purishkevich, assistant Stanilaus de Lazovert and Sukhotin killed Rasputin in the Moika Palace. A major reconstruction of the palace had almost been finished, with a small room in the basement carefully furnished. (For some time, Yusupov lived in a mansion owned by Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia, his mother-in-law.) Rasputin was hit by a bullet that entered his left chest and penetrated the stomach and the liver; a second entered the left back soon after the first and penetrated the kidneys. The wounds were serious, and Rasputin would have died in 10–20 min, but he succeeded in escaping, only to fall in the snow-clad courtyard. It is not clear whether or not Yusupov beat Rasputin with a sort of dumb bell. It is also not clear if it was Purishkevich who shot him in the forehead. The conspirators finally threw the corpse from Bolshoy Petrovsky Bridge into an ice hole in the Malaya Neva.

On the Empress's orders, a police investigation commenced and traces of blood were discovered on the steps to the back door of the Yusupov Palace. Prince Felix attempted to explain the blood with a story that one of his favourite dogs was shot accidentally by Grand Duke Dmitri. Yusupov and Dmitri were placed under house arrest in the Sergei Palace. (The upper levels of the palace were occupied by the British embassy and the Anglo-Russian Hospital.)

The Empress had refused to meet the two but said that they could explain what had happened in a letter to her. She wanted both shot immediately, but she was persuaded to back off from the idea. Without a trial, the Tsar sent Dmitri to the front in Persia; Purishkevich was already on his way to the front in Romania. The Tsar banished Yusupov to his estate in Rakitnoye, in Belgorod Oblast.

Yusupov published several accounts of the night and the events surrounding the murder. Recent authorities have cast doubt on Yusupov's account (see Grigori Rasputin).

Fuhrmann thinks that Yusupov was the man who hatched the plot and who carried it out. "The clumsy way the assassination was carried out shows it was the work of an amateur." Fuhrmann also thinks Yusupov's "...candid Memoirs were corroborated by the other conspirators."

Exile

Felix and Irina 1915

One week after the February Revolution, Nicholas abdicated the throne on 2 March. Following the abdication, the Yusupovs returned to the Moika Palace before they went to Crimea. They later returned to the palace to retrieve jewels (including the blue Sultan of Morocco Diamond, the Polar Star Diamond, and a pair of diamond earrings that once belonged to Marie-Antoinette) and two paintings by Rembrandt, the sale proceeds of which helped sustain the family in exile. The paintings were bought by Joseph E. Widener in 1921 and are now in the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

In Crimea, the family boarded a British warship, HMS Marlborough, which took them from Yalta to Malta. On the ship, Felix enjoyed boasting about the murder of Rasputin. One of the British officers noted that Irina "appeared shy and retiring at first, but it was only necessary to take a little notice of her pretty, small daughter to break through her reserve and discover that she was also very charming and spoke fluent English."

From Malta, they travelled to Italy and then to Paris. In Italy, lacking a visa, he bribed the officials with diamonds. In Paris, they stayed a few days in Hôtel de Vendôme before they went on to London. In 1920, they returned to Paris.

Prince and Princess Yussupov lived between:

  • 1920-1939 : 37, Rue Gutenberg then 19, Rue de La Tourelle in Boulogne-sur-Seine.
  • 1939-1940 : they rented a mansion in Sarcelles, Rue Victor-Hugo.
  • 1940-1943 : they moved to Rue Agar and 65, Rue La Fontaine (16th arrondissement of Paris).
  • from 1943 until their death : 38, Rue Pierre-Guérin (Neuilly-Auteuil-Passy).

The Yusupovs founded a short-lived couture house Irfé, named after the first two letters of their first names. Irina modeled some of the dresses the pair and other designers at the firm created. Yusupov became renowned in the Russian émigré community for his financial generosity. Their philanthropy and their continued high living and poor financial management extinguished what remained of the family fortune. Felix's bad business sense and the Wall Street Crash of 1929 eventually forced the company to shut down.

Lawsuits

In 1932, he and his wife successfully sued MGM in the English courts for invasion of privacy and libel in connection with the film Rasputin and the Empress. The alleged libel was not that the character based on Felix had committed murder but that the character based on Irina, called "Princess Natasha" in the film, was portrayed as having been seduced by the lecherous Rasputin. In 1934, the Yusupovs were awarded £25,000 damages, an enormous sum at the time, which was attributed to the successful arguments of their barrister, Sir Patrick Hastings. The disclaimer that now appears at the end of every American film, "The preceding was a work of fiction, any similarity to a living person etc.," first appeared as a result of the legal precedent set by the Yusupov case.

Château de Keriolet belonged to the Yusupov family. In 1956, Felix won a lawsuit and regained possession of the castle on Finistère. It was sold to the city Concarneau in 1971.

In 1965, he also sued CBS in a New York court for televising a play based upon the Rasputin assassination. The claim was that some events were fictionalized, and under a New York State statute, his commercial rights in his story had been misappropriated. The last reported judicial opinion in the case was a ruling by New York's second highest court that the case could not be resolved upon briefs and affidavits but must go to trial. According to an obituary of CBS's lawyer, CBS eventually won the case.

In 1928, after Yusupov published his memoir detailing the killing of Rasputin, Rasputin's daughter, Maria, sued Yusupov and Dmitri in a Paris court for damages of $800,000. She condemned both men as murderers and said any decent person would be disgusted by the ferocity of Rasputin's killing. Maria's claim was dismissed. The French court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over a political killing that had occurred in Russia.

Death

Irina and Felix enjoyed a happy and successful marriage for more than 50 years. When Felix died in 1967, Irina was stricken by grief and died three years later. He was buried in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery, in the southern suburbs of Paris. Yusupov's private papers and a number of family artifacts and paintings are now owned by Víctor Contreras, a Mexican sculptor who, as a young art student in the 1960s, met Yusupov and lived with the family for five years in Paris.

Some of the Yusupov possessions owned by Contreras were auctioned in November 2016 by Coutau Bégarie. This included correspondence with the family of his father's mistress, Zénaïde Gregorieff-Svetiloff.

Ancestors

16. Frederick William III of Prussia
16. Frederick William III of Prussia
8. Frederick William IV of Prussia or Charles von Hügel
17. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
4. Count Felix Nikolaievich Sumarokov-Elston
18. Count Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen
9. Countess Catherine von Tiesenhausen
19. Princess Elizabeth Mikhailovna Golenishcheva-Kutuzova
2. Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston
20. Count Pavel Ivanovich Sumarokov
10. Count Sergei Pavlovich Sumarokov
21. Princess Maria Vassilevna Galitzina
5. Countess Elena Sergeievna Sumarokova
22. Marquess Panos Maruzzi
11. Marchioness Aleksandra Pavlovna Maruzzi
23. Princess Zoe Ghika (daughter of Scarlat Ghica)
1. Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov
24. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
12. Prince Boris Nikolaievich Yusupov
25. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt
6. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
26. Ivan Dimitrievitch Narishkin, Marshal of the Sytchev Nobility and Chamberlain
13. Zenaida Ivanovna Narishkina
27. Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky (illegitimate daughter of Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov)
3. Princess Zenaida Nikolaievna Yusupova
28. Count Jean Francois de Ribeaupierre
14. Comte Alexandre de Ribeaupierre
29. Agrippine Bibikova
7. Countess Tatiana Alexandrovna de Ribeaupierre
30. Mikhail Sergeievich Potemkin
15. Ekaterina Mikhailovna Potemkina
31. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt (= 25)
16. Frederick William III of Prussia
8. Frederick William IV of Prussia or Charles von Hügel
17. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
4. Count Felix Nikolaievich Sumarokov-Elston
18. Count Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen
9. Countess Catherine von Tiesenhausen
19. Princess Elizabeth Mikhailovna Golenishcheva-Kutuzova
2. Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston
20. Count Pavel Ivanovich Sumarokov
10. Count Sergei Pavlovich Sumarokov
21. Princess Maria Vassilevna Galitzina
5. Countess Elena Sergeievna Sumarokova
22. Marquess Panos Maruzzi
11. Marchioness Aleksandra Pavlovna Maruzzi
23. Princess Zoe Ghika (daughter of Scarlat Ghica)
1. Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov
24. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
12. Prince Boris Nikolaievich Yusupov
25. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt
6. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
26. Ivan Dimitrievitch Narishkin, Marshal of the Sytchev Nobility and Chamberlain
13. Zenaida Ivanovna Narishkina
27. Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky (illegitimate daughter of Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov)
3. Princess Zenaida Nikolaievna Yusupova
28. Count Jean Francois de Ribeaupierre
14. Comte Alexandre de Ribeaupierre
29. Agrippine Bibikova
7. Countess Tatiana Alexandrovna de Ribeaupierre
30. Mikhail Sergeievich Potemkin
15. Ekaterina Mikhailovna Potemkina
31. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt (= 25)
8. Frederick William IV of Prussia or Charles von Hügel
17. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
4. Count Felix Nikolaievich Sumarokov-Elston
18. Count Ferdinand von Tiesenhausen
9. Countess Catherine von Tiesenhausen
19. Princess Elizabeth Mikhailovna Golenishcheva-Kutuzova
2. Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston
20. Count Pavel Ivanovich Sumarokov
10. Count Sergei Pavlovich Sumarokov
21. Princess Maria Vassilevna Galitzina
5. Countess Elena Sergeievna Sumarokova
22. Marquess Panos Maruzzi
11. Marchioness Aleksandra Pavlovna Maruzzi
23. Princess Zoe Ghika (daughter of Scarlat Ghica)
1. Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov
24. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
12. Prince Boris Nikolaievich Yusupov
25. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt
6. Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov
26. Ivan Dimitrievitch Narishkin, Marshal of the Sytchev Nobility and Chamberlain
13. Zenaida Ivanovna Narishkina
27. Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky (illegitimate daughter of Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov)
3. Princess Zenaida Nikolaievna Yusupova
28. Count Jean Francois de Ribeaupierre
14. Comte Alexandre de Ribeaupierre
29. Agrippine Bibikova
7. Countess Tatiana Alexandrovna de Ribeaupierre
30. Mikhail Sergeievich Potemkin
15. Ekaterina Mikhailovna Potemkina
31. Tatiana Vasilievna von Engelhardt (= 25)

Dilnoza Yusupova

Descendants

Descendants of Felix and Irina are:

  • Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova, (21 March 1915, Saint Petersburg, Russia – 30 August 1983, Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France), married Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Sheremetev (28 October 1904, Moscow, Russia – 5 February 1979, Paris, France), son of Count Dmitry Sergeevich Sheremetev and wife Countess Irina Ilarionovna Vorontzova-Dachkova and a descendant of Boris Petrovich Sheremetev; had issue:
    • Countess Xenia Nikolaevna Sheremeteva (born 1 March 1942, Rome, Italy), married on 20 June 1965 in Athens, Greece, to Ilias Sfiris (born 20 August 1932, Athens, Greece); had issue:
      • Tatiana Sfiris (born 28 August 1968, Athens, Greece), married on May 1996 in Athens to Alexis Giannakoupoulos (born 1963), divorced, no issue; married Anthony Vamvakidis and has issue:
        • Marilia Vamvakidis (born 7 July 2004)
        • Yasmine Xenia Vamvakidis (born 17 May 2006)

Sources

  • Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (2013). Rasputin, the untold story (illustrated ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-118-17276-6.
  • Greg King (1994) The Last Empress. The Life & Times of Alexandra Feodorovna, tsarina of Russia. A Birch Lane Press Book.
  • Margarita Nelipa (2010) The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin. A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire, Gilbert's Books. ISBN 978-0-9865310-1-9.
  • Bernard Pares (1939) The Fall of the Russian Monarchy. A Study of the Evidence. Jonathan Cape. London.
  • Vladimir Pourichkevitch (1924) Comment j'ai tué Raspoutine. Pages de Journal. J. Povolozky & Cie. Paris
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 22 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
http://www.guide-guru.com/best-of-st-petersburg-attractions/yusupovs-palace/
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/christophe.martyn/Direct_Article/Direct_Article/brotherskeeper.pdf
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http://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/features/oxford-alumnus-who-helped-assassinate-rasputin
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1917/01/14/102309358.pdf
http://oxrussoc.wix.com/ours#!about/cazn
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http://yusupov.org/rakitnoe.html
http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.1207.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20160303190834/http://fr.topic-topos.com/maison-de-felix-youssoupov-sarcelles
http://fr.topic-topos.com/maison-de-felix-youssoupov-sarcelles
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