|Prince Felix Yusupov|
|Spouse||Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia|
|Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova|
|House||House of Yusupov (noble family)|
|Father||Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston|
|Mother||Princess Zenaida Nikolaievna Yusupova|
23 March 1887|
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Died||27 September 1967
|Burial||Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery|
Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston (Russian: Князь Фéликс Фéликсович Юсýпов, Граф Сумароков-Эльстон; March 23, 1887, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire – September 27, 1967, Paris, France), was best known for participating in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin, the faith healer who was said to have influenced decisions of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna.
Felix Yusupov was born in Saint Petersburg, capital of the Russian Empire. His mother's family, the Yusupovs, were of Tatar origin and very wealthy (there was a time when Felix Yusupov was the richest man in Russia). The Yusupov family acquired their wealth generations earlier through extensive land grants in Siberia, and they owned a string of profitable mines and fur trading posts. In order that the Yusupov name might not die out, the prince's father, Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston (October 5, 1856, Saint Petersburg – June 10, 1928, Rome, Italy), General Governor of Moscow (1914–1915) (son of Count Felix Nikolaievich Sumarokov-Elston), took the surname of his wife, Princess Zenaida Nikolaievna Yusupova (September 2, 1861, Saint Petersburg – November 24, 1939, Paris) upon their marriage, on April 4, 1882 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Felix became heir to the immense fortune after his older brother Nikolai Felixovich, Count Sumarokov-Elston (born 1883), was killed in a duel on June 22, 1908. 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.
Felix was bisexual and also led a flamboyant life. He describes in his autobiography often spending time with Gypsy bands and adopting female clothing. From 1909 to 1912 he studied at University College, Oxford in England, where he was a member of the Bullingdon club and established the Oxford University Russian Society. He married Princess Irina of Russia, the Tsar's niece, on February 22, 1914 in the Anichkov Palace in Saint Petersburg. The marriage was said to be extremely well matched and very happy.
World War I
The Yusupovs were on their honeymoon in Europe and the Middle East when World War I broke out. They were briefly detained in Berlin after the outbreak of hostilities. Irina asked her first cousin, Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia to intervene with her father-in-law, the Kaiser. Kaiser Wilhelm II refused to permit them 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 to Germany, and won permission for them to return to Russia via neutral Denmark to Finland, and from there to St. Petersburg
Felix converted a wing of his Moika Palace into a hospital for wounded soldiers, but avoided entering military service himself by taking advantage of a law exempting only-sons from serving. He did enter the Cadet Corps and took an officer's training course, but had no intention of joining a regiment. Irina's first cousin, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, whom she had been close to 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 her father, Tsar Nicholas II, on 5 March 1915 after paying a visit to the Yusupovs.
The Yusupovs' only daughter, Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova, nicknamed Bébé, was born on 21 March 1915. "I shall never forget my happiness when I heard the child's first cry," her father wrote. Irina liked her name and wanted to pass it on to her first child. Her mother Xenia was so worried over the delivery that Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna stated that it was almost as if Xenia was giving birth rather than Irina.
It was in the Yusupov family's Moika Palace in Saint Petersburg that Yusopov, Grand Duke Dmitri and others murdered Rasputin on the night of 29 December 1916. Despite being poisoned, shot four times, and beaten with an iron bar, the victim refused to die. The conspirators finally had to tie him up and throw him into the icy Neva River in order to kill him. Yusupov published several accounts of the night and the events surrounding it. Following the killing, Yusupov was subject to a virtual house arrest in his estate outside Saint Petersburg. Recent authorities have cast doubt on Yusupov's account (see Rasputin).
Three months after the assassination, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne in the February Revolution. Following the abdication, the Yusupovs returned to the Moika Palace before travelling to the Crimea. They later returned to the palace to retrieve jewellery and two paintings by Rembrandt, the sale proceeds of which helped sustain the family in exile.
In the Crimea, the family boarded a British warship, HMS Marlborough, which took them from Yalta to Malta. While on the ship, Felix Yusupov 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, then by train to Paris. In Italy, lacking a visa, he bribed the officials with diamonds. In Paris, they stayed a few days in Hotel de Vendôme before going on to London. In 1920, they returned to Paris and bought a house on the Rue Gutenberg in Boulogne-sur-Seine, where they lived most of the rest of their lives. In exile, Irina and Felix lived better than most emigres following the Revolution.
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. They became renowned in the Russian émigré community for his financial generosity. This philanthropy, plus continued high living and poor financial management extinguished what remained of the family fortune. Felix Yusupov's bad business sense and the Wall Street Crash of 1929 eventually forced the company to shut down.
Yusupov and his wife successfully sued MGM through the English courts for invasion of privacy and libel in connection with the 1932 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 counsel Sir Patrick Hastings. The disclaimer which now screens 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.
Yusupov also sued the Columbia Broadcasting System in a New York court in 1965 for televising a play based upon the Rasputin assassination. The claim was that some events were fictionalized, and that under a New York City statute Felix's 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.
Felix and Irina's daughter was largely raised by her paternal grandparents until she was nine and was badly 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. Irina adored her father, but had a more distant relationship with her mother.
After Yusupov published his memoir detailing the death of Grigory Rasputin, Rasputin's daughter Maria sued Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich 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 took place in Russia.
Yusupov died in Paris in 1967. He is buried in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. Most of Prince Yusupov's private papers and a number of family and personal papers and artifacts, including several paintings, are now owned by a distant blood relative, H.I.H. Grand Duke Felix Nikolaevich-Sumarokov-Elston, Grand Prince of All The Russia's. They are now on permanent public display.
|Ancestors of Felix Yusupov|
Descendants of Felix and Irina are:
- Princess Irina Felixovna Yussupova, (March 21, 1915, Saint Petersburg, Russia- August 30, 1983, Cormeilles[disambiguation needed], France), married Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Sheremetev (October 28, 1904, Moscow, Russia – February 5, 1979, Paris, France), son of Count Dmitri Sergeievich Sheremetev and wife Countess Irina Ilarionovna Vorontzova-Dachkova and a descendant of Boris Petrovich Sheremetev; had issue:
- Countess Xenia Dmitrievna Sheremeteva (born March 1, 1942, Rome, Italy), married on June 20, 1965 in Athens, Greece, to Ilias Sfiris (born August 20, 1932, Athens, Greece); had issue:
- Youssoupoff, Prince Felix: "Rasputin", Dial Press, 1927
- Youssoupoff, Prince Felix: "Rasputin: His Malignant Influence and His Assassination", 1934
- Youssoupoff, Prince Felix: "Avant L'Exil", Plon, Paris 1952
- Youssoupoff, Prince Felix: "Lost Splendour", Jonathan Cape, London 1953
- Ferrand, Jacques (Ed.): "Les princes Youssoupoff & les comtes Soumarokoff-Elston", Ferrand, Paris 1991
- Variously transliterated from Cyrillic as Yussupov, Yusupov, Yossopov, Iusupov, Youssoupov, Youssoupoff, or as Feliks, Graf Sumarrokow-Elston.
- King, Greg, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, Carol Publishing Group, 1995, p. 97.
- King, pp. 114–115
- King, pp. 115–116
- Bokhanov, Alexander, Knodt, Dr. Manfred, Oustimenko, Vladimir, Peregudova, Zinaida, Tyutyunnik, Lyubov, editors, Xenofontova, Lyudmila, translator, The Romanovs: Love, Power, and Tragedy, Leppi Publications, 1993, p. 240
- King, p. 116
- Yusupov, Felix (1952). "Lost Splendor". alexanderpalace.org. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Tsarina Alexandra. "Letters of the Tsaritsa to the Tsar From 1914–1917". alexanderpalace.org. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- King, p. 209
- Suzy Menkes (July 1, 2008). "Russian revival at Irfe". New York Times.
- "Russian label Irfe rises from its ashes in Paris". Otago Daily Times. July 2, 2008.
- King, p. 240-241
- NZ Davis "Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead": Film and the Challenge of Authenticity,The Yale Review, 86 (1986–87): 457–82.
- Youssoupoff v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 19 A.D.2d 865 (1963)
- New York Times, Sept. 6, 1983 (obituary of Carleton G. Eldridge Jr.)
- King, pp. 257–258
- "King, p. 109"/> When Felix died in 1967, Irina was grief-stricken and passed away herself just three years later
- King, p. 275.
- King, Greg, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, Carol Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-8065-1971-1, p. 232
- King, p. 233
- [dead link]
- de: Johann Aloys Josef, Freiherr von Hügel
- Paul Theroff (2007). "Russia". An Online Gotha. Retrieved January 3, 2007.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Felix Yusupov.|
- The Yusupovs' Palace on Moika, St.Petersburg – Family nest until 1919
- Lost Splendour – Yusupov's self-biography until 1919 (online). Printed in 1952, ISBN 1-885586-58-2.
- Felix Yusupov at Find a Grave