Hélène de Pourtalès

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Hélène de Pourtalès
Helene de Pourtales c1900.jpg
Personal information
Birth nameHelen Barbey
Born(1868-04-28)28 April 1868
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died2 November 1945(1945-11-02) (aged 77)
Geneva, Switzerland
Sailing career
Class(es)1 — 2 ton
ClubUnion des Yachtsmen
Updated on 8 May 2015.
Swiss boat Lérina - 1900 Summer Olympics

Countess Hélène de Pourtalès (April 28, 1868 – November 2, 1945) born as Helen Barbey, was an American who became a Swiss sailor who competed in the 1900 Summer Olympics and becoming the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal.[1]

Early life[edit]

Helen Barbey was born on April 28, 1868 in New York City, the daughter of Henry Isaac Barbey and Mary (née Lorillard) Barbey. Her maternal grandparents were Pierre Lorillard III[2] and Catherine Anne (née Griswold) Lorillard.[3][4] Her sister Eva was married to André Poupart, Baron de Neuflize in 1903, the older brother of Roberte Ponsonby, Countess of Bessborough.[5][6] Her father, a financier and a director of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway, was a nephew of Adrian Georg Iselin and cousin of Charles Oliver Iselin.[7]

Her family included her uncle Pierre Lorillard IV;[8][9] aunt Catherine Lorillard;[10][11][12] uncle George Lyndes Lorillard;[13] who married Marie Louise La Farge, the daughter of John La Farge and the sister of Christopher Grant La Farge, who later became the Countess de Agreda after she married Count de Agreda;[14][15] and Louis Lasher Lorillard, who married Katherine Livingston Beeckman,[16] sister of Governor Robert Livingston Beeckman.[17]

Barbey grew up at 17 West 38th Street in New York City.[18]


De Pourtalès was a crewmember of the Swiss boat Lérina, which won the gold medal in the first race of 2-3 ton class and silver medal in the second race of 2-3 ton class. She also participated in the open class but did not finish. Her husband Hermann, as helmsman, and her husband's nephew Bernard were also crew members. De Pourtalès was also one of the first women to take part in the Olympics, as that was the first time women were allowed to compete. She was very well known after her gold medal, becoming the first woman to win a gold medal two months before Charlotte Cooper.

Personal life[edit]

In 1891, de Pourtalès was married to Hermann Alexander, Count von Pourtalès (1847–1904),[1] after the death of his first wife, Marguerite Marcet. Hermann was a captain of the Cuirassiers of the Guard.[18]

From his first marriage, de Pourtalès became the stepmother of Count Guy de Pourtalès (1881–1941), the author, and Count Raimond Pourtalès (1882–1914), attache of the German embassy, who married Countess Luise Alexandra von Bernstorff (1888–1971), daughter of Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador to the United States[19] in 1911.[20] The wedding, which took place in Washington, D.C. was attended by William Howard Taft, who was then the President of the United States.[20] After his death in 1914, she remarried to Prince Johannes Baptista of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg (1880-1956), the youngest son of Charles, 6th Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.[21]

De Pourtalès died on November 2, 1945 in Geneva.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Hélène de Pourtalès Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympic Sports. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Shrager, Mark (April 1, 2016). The Great Sweepstakes of 1877: A True Story of Southern Grit, Gilded Age Tycoons, and a Race That Galvanized the Nation. Guilford, Connecticut: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781493018895. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Pierre Lorillard III". www.thepeerage.com. The Peerage. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  4. ^ The World Almanac and Encyclopedia. Press Publishing Company, (The New York World). 1905. p. 330. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  5. ^ "MISS DE NEUFLIZE ENGAGED IN PARIS; Her Betrothal to Baron Jean de Watteville Berckheim Is Annotinced MARCH WEDDING PLANNED Bride-to-Be Is a Granddiughter of-Late Mr and Mrs. Henry Barbey of New York". The New York Times. 21 February 1937. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  6. ^ "MISS DE NEUFLIZE BRIDE IN CATHEDRAL; She Is Married in Paris to Baron Jean de Watteville-Berckheim of Alsace". The New York Times. 13 March 1937. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ Patterson, Jerry E. (2000). The First Four Hundred : Mrs. Astor's New York in the Gilded Age. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0847822850. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  8. ^ "PIERRE LORILLARD, SR., IN CRITICAL CONDITION; Removed from the Deutschland to a Hotel in an Ambulance. Was Taken III in England and Was Confined to His Cabin Throughout the Voyage". The New York Times. 5 July 1901. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  9. ^ "PIERRE LORILLARD DEAD; Famous in Society, in Commerce, and in the World of Sport. First American to Win the English Derby -- Other Triumphs on the Turf in Both Hemispheres". The New York Times. 8 July 1901. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Mrs. Catherine Lorillard Kernochan". The New York Times. 27 February 1917. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  11. ^ "JAMES P. KERNOCHAN DEAD; Well-Known Clubman Expires from the Effects of Being Knocked Down on Monday. CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT. Archibald Pell Says He Knew Tuesday that Miss Baker, the Banker's Daughter, Drove the Wagon Which Ran Against His Father-in-Law". The New York Times. 6 March 1897. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  12. ^ Pell, Eve (2009). We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former Debutante. SUNY Press. p. 14. ISBN 9781438424972. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  13. ^ "GEORGE LORILLARD'S DEATH.; HIS CAREER AS A YACHTSMAN AND ON THE TURF". The New York Times. 5 February 1886. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  14. ^ "DEATH LIST OF A DAY. | Countess de Agreda". The New York Times. July 3, 1899. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  15. ^ "WHAT IS DOING IN SOCIETY". The New York Times. September 8, 1899. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  16. ^ "MRS. LORILLARD, 86, OF NEWPORT, DEAD; Sister of Ex-Gov. Beeckman of Rhode Island Had Suffered a Stroke Thursday". The New York Times. 21 July 1941. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Mrs. Louis L. Lorillard Ill". The New York Times. 26 February 1921. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  18. ^ a b "MISS BARBEY ENGAGED.; Daughter of the Late Henry Barbey of New York to Wed Gilbert Elliott". The New York Times. 3 August 1910. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  19. ^ "YOUNG COUNTESS TO MARRY; Daughter of Ambassador von Bernstorff Engaged to Count Pourtales". The New York Times. 11 December 1910. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  20. ^ a b "PRESIDENT ATTENDS EMBASSY WEDDING; Countess von Bernstorff, Daughter of the German Ambassador, Married to Count Pourtales". The New York Times. 28 March 1911. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  21. ^ Watzdorf-Bachoff, Erika von (1997). Im Wandel und in der Verwandlung der Zeit: ein Leben von 1878 bis 1963 (in German). Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 430. ISBN 9783515070621. Retrieved 18 February 2018.

Further reading[edit]