kids encyclopedia robot

Felix Yusupov facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov
Prince Felix Yusupov.jpg
Born 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1887
Moika Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died 27 September 1967(1967-09-27) (aged 80)
Paris, France
Burial Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery
Spouse Princess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia
Issue Princess Irina Felixovna Yusupova
Full name
Felix Felixovich Yusupov
House Yusupov
Father Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston
Mother Princess Zinaida Nikolayevna Yusupova

Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston (Russian: Князь Фе́ликс Фе́ликсович Юсу́пов, Граф Сумаро́ков-Эльстон, romanized: Knyaz' Féliks Féliksovich Yusúpov, Graf Sumarókov-El'ston; 23 March [O.S. 11 March] 1887 – 27 September 1967) was a Russian aristocrat from the Yusupov family who is best known for participating in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin and for marrying Princess Irina Alexandrovna, a 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 (1856, Saint Petersburg – 1928, Rome, Italy) was granted the title and the surname of his wife, Princess Zinaida Yusupova, on 11 June 1885, a year after their marriage, but effective after the death of his father-in-law in 1891.

Arkhangelskoe 3
The family estate near Moscow; Arkhangelskoye Palace

The Yusupov family, one of the richest families in Imperial Russia, had acquired their wealth generations earlier. It included four palaces in Saint Petersburg, three palaces in Moscow, 37 estates in different parts of Russia, on the Crimea (at Koreiz, Kökköz and Balaklava), coal and iron-ore mines, plants and factories, flour mills and oil fields on the Caspian Sea. His father served between 1886 and 1904 as an adjutant to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was appointed General-Governor of Moscow (with the support of Grand Duke Nikolas Nikolaevich).

Palace of Prince Yusupov in Kokkoz
The hunting lodge at Sokolyne

Felix led a flamboyant life. As a young man, he cross-dressed, wearing ball gowns and his mother's jewelry to public events. 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, and a housekeeper, and spent much of his time partying. He owned three horses, a macaw, and a bulldog called Punch. He danced tango and became friendly with Luigi Franchetti, a piano player, and Jacques de Beistegui, who both moved in. At some time, Yusupov became acquainted with Albert Stopford and Oswald Rayner, a classmate. He rented an apartment in Curzon Street, Mayfair, and met several times with the ballerina Anna Pavlova, who lived in Hampstead.


The Yusupov family. Prince Felix, Prince Nicholas, Count Felix Felixovich Sumarkov-Elston and Princess Zinaida
The Yusupov family in 1901: Prince Felix, Prince Nicholas, Count Felix Felixovich Sumarkov-Elston and Princess Zinaida.
Portrait of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (later Prince Yusupov)
Portrait of Felix Yusupov (1903) by Valentin Serov

The engagement took place in the fall of 1913 in the Yusupov Palace in Koreiz. 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 honeymoon to the Crimea, Italy, Egypt, Jerusalem, London, and Bad Kissingen in Germany, where his parents were staying. No one suspected this would be the last grand wedding in the Russian Empire.

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 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. She 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. Bébé 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/floor of the Liteyny House 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 children, 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.

"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." These sessions stopped early January 1915 when, according to Maurice Paléologue, the most absurd stories were spread about Alexandra Feodorovna, Rasputin was accused of selling out to Germany, and the tsarina was called nothing but "German" (in first place her birth nationality). The men did not meet for almost two years. In February 1916 Felix began studies at the elite Page Corps military academy and tried joining a regiment in August.

The Memoirs by M. Paléologue

The incessant retreat in Galicia and the rumours of heavy losses gave rise to a lot of swearing and gossip, according to Alexander Spiridovich.

On 19 June 1915, after anti-German pogroms in Moscow, which he could not quickly stop, he was dismissed from the post of chief of the Moscow Military District, and on September 3, 1915 — from the post of commander-in-chief over Moscow.

Killing of Rasputin

Early November 1916, Felix Yusupov approached the lawyer Vasily Maklakov, who agreed to advise Felix. It seems Yusopov then asked Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an army officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment who was recovering from injuries and 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 20 November Felix visited Vladimir Purishkevich, who had delivered an angry anti-Rasputin speech in the Duma on the day before, and quickly agreed to participate in the murder.

Spb 06-2012 Moika various 03
Yusupov's Palace in Saint Petersburg by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, bought in 1830 by Boris Yusupov
GUFizecheskojKulturyLesgafta 29672
When the Yusupov palace was renovated at the end of 1916, Felix lived in the palace of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna on Moika 106.

On the night of 29/30 December (NS) 1916, Felix, Dmitri, Vladimir Purishkevich, assistant Stanislas de Lazovert, and Sukhotin killed Rasputin in the Moika Palace under the pretense of a housewarming party. A major reconstruction of the palace had almost been finished, with a small room in the basement carefully furnished. Perhaps some women were invited but Yusupov did not mention their names; Radzinsky suggested Dimitri's step-sister Marianne Pistohlkors and film star Vera Karalli. Smith came up with Princess Olga Paley and Anna von Drenteln. Somewhere in the building were a major-domo and a valet, waiting for orders.

On the Empress's orders, a police investigation commenced. 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 executed 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, 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).

According to Maklakov, Yusupov was not the mastermind. 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."


Felix and Irina in 1915
In exile Irina and Felix
In exile

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 the Marie Antoinette Diamond Earrings) and two paintings by Rembrandt, the sale proceeds of the paintings 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 the Hôtel de Vendôme before they went on to London. In 1920, they returned to Paris.

The Yusupovs lived in the following places in France:

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

The Yusupovs founded a short-lived couture house, IRFĒ, 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. (A new business under the same name was started by others in Paris in 2008.)


Château de Kériolet
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 of Concarneau in 1971.

In 1965, Felix Yusupov 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, Carleton G. Eldridge Jr., 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.


Irina and Felix were married for more than 50 years. When Felix died in 1967, Irina was stricken by grief and she died three years later, on 26 February 1970. 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 Victor 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.


Мечеть кінець XVIII ст. Соколиное 4
Felix seems to have designed the Yusupov's Mosque

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 in 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)


  • Youssoupoff, Félix (1927) (in French). La Fin de Raspoutine. Paris: Librairie Plon. OCLC 422228302.
    • Youssoupoff, Felix (1927). Rasputin: his Malignant Influence and his Assassination. London: Jonathan Cape.
    • Youssoupoff, Felix (1927). Rasputin. Dial Press. OCLC 1224674476.
  • Youssoupoff, Félix (1952) (in French). Avant l'Exil: 1887-1919. Paris: Plon. OCLC 422228302.
    • Youssoupoff, Felix (1954). Lost Splendor. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Youssoupoff, Félix (1954) (in French). En Exil. Paris: Plon. OCLC 7254183.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Félix Yusúpov para niños

kids search engine
Felix Yusupov Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.