Felix Yusupov – Golden Boy of the Russian aristocracy
Felix Yusupov, the richest man of his time, golden boy of the Russian aristocracy, did much to become famous. But in the history he is known as Grigory Rasputin’s murderer.
Felix was born on March 24, 1887 in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire. Zinaida Nikolaevna, Felix’s mother, wanted to have a daughter. She even had sewed a pink dress for the unborn child. So as a child the boy was dressed in girlish dresses. Even in adulthood Felix liked to dress up in women’s suits. He was one of the first freaks of his time. You know, he liked to come to the restaurant with a makeup, in a dress and performed romances. Even after the wedding with Irina Romanova, the niece of the Tsar Nicholas II, he didn’t quit his old habits. Their daughter Irina was born in 1915.
To tell the truth, he was a frivolous aristocrat. For example, when he didn’t enter the military school, Felix made friends with gypsies and participated in performances singing soprano.
In 1909-1912 he studied at Oxford University (University College), where he founded the Russian Society of Oxford University. When Felix entered Oxford, he preferred comfortable armchairs of London theaters to hard benches of university audiences. For a while, he even acted in theater – an unheard infamy for the aristocracy. Moreover, he sang the female role instead of one of the blue-eyed actresses of Aquarium theater.
In 1910 Yusupov headed the first Russian automobile club, located in the house of the First Russian Insurance Company.
One of the participants of Rasputin’s murder, Oswald Rayner, Yusupov’s close friend, was an agent of British intelligence. Rasputin’s death was profitable for the British Empire, because he stood for peace with Germany. Kerensky, supporter of the British interests, freed Yusupov from exile.
By the way, Felix was the author of two books – The End of Rasputin (1927) and Memoirs (1953).
It should be noted that Yusupov was a patriot and a rather generous man. During the First World War, he organized hospitals in St. Petersburg. In the first of them Felix worked himself.
Looking ahead, we should add that during the Second World War Prince Yusupov would take a very interesting position: he did not want to support the Nazis who occupied France, but also categorically refused to return to St. Petersburg.
After the October Revolution, Felix together with his family left Russia forever. First he settled in Malta, and later moved to London and from there to Paris. Felix continued to help refugees. Together with his mother, he organized a special fund, and also gave shelter in his home.
Fashion House IrFe, opened by Felix and Irina, was unique in its way. Countess and Duchess worked there as models and seamstresses. One of the models was Natalie Paley, the daughter of Grand Duke Paul, fatal beauty, who later became the face of Vogue. Felix and Irina used silk painting, created several lines of clothing including a revolutionary for that time sports style. However, in 1930 the couple went bankrupt because of the Great Depression.
In 1932 the film Rasputin and the Empress was released. It was said that Irina Yusupova, Felix’s wife, was the mistress of Rasputin. Felix sued the movie studio MGM, won the case and received $ 25,000 as compensation.
He died on September 27, 1967 in Paris, France. Irina Yusupov died in 1970 and was buried next to him. Shortly after the death of Princess Irina Alexandrovna, the house suddenly fell into the ground, reminding the witnesses the story The Fall of the House of Ushers by Edgar Poe.
In a very old age, a few months before his death, Felix and Irina adopted18-year-old Mexican Victor Manuel Contreras. Later, the young man would become famous as a sculptor and artist. His works are in museums of many countries, and are also represented on the central squares in North America and in Europe.
Today, the direct descendants of the Yusupovs are Yusupov’s granddaughter Xenia Sefirot (nee Sheremeteva) and her daughter Tatyana Sefirot (born on August 28, 1968 in Athens). In 1996 Tatyana married Alexis. They have two daughters – Marilia (born in 2004) and Jasmine-Xenia (born in 2006).
There are a lot of books and movies about Felix. Almost always, when the story of the life of Emperor Nicholas II or Grigory Rasputin is filmed, there must be a character of this unusual person.