Author Topic: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?  (Read 34120 times)

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Offline JD

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The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« on: July 18, 2004, 04:49:31 PM »
It is well known that the Yussupov's were the wealthiest and most influential family in Russia next to the Romanov's.  It's also known that the wealthiest men of the day were American tycoon's such as John Rockefeller and JP Morgan. But aside from these Americans, did the Yussopov's possess the largest fortune in Europe, including that of the Romanov's (richest royal family in Europe)?

james_h

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2004, 04:33:15 AM »
 I believe the wealthiest American of the day was worth approximately $900 Million. By Contrast (All in US $).....


1.Romanov         $9000 Million *
2. Sheremetev   $? **
3.Stroganoff      $?***
4. Golitsyn         $?****
5. Youssoupoff  $ 500 Million *****


* Source "Lost fortune of the Tsars" Time magazine estimate.
** Their approx. position in 1859
*** Their approx. position in 1859
**** Total combined family fortune in 1859
*****Source "Lost fortune of the Tsars"

I see no reason for major change between these families between 1859 and the revolution.

Offline JD

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2004, 01:38:36 PM »
Interesting stuff, thanks.

I have recently read that the New York Times estimated Felix's wealth at 300M at the time of his wedding.  I assume that is the total Yussupov fortune as I find it difficult to believe they could be worth much more than that.

But I also find it difficult to believe the Romanov's could be worth 9 billion, which would be over 9 times the fortune of Rockefeller.  I definitely question that estimate but perhaps someone can confirm or disprove it.  But how does this compare to other Royal families or European magnates of the day? Obviously it is known that the Romanov's were easily the wealthiest of royal families.

What is your source for the Sheremetev, Stroganoff, and Golitsyn families? I think of the Sheremetev's as the main competition for the Yussupov's, but I think of them as mostly an old-russia family, their peak was in the 1700s-1800s.  But I could be wrong.

Offline JD

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2004, 01:48:01 PM »
BTW, I have recently read that the Sheremetev family went into debt around the mid-1800s so that might confirm what I said earlier. Hopefully someone has some information on that.

Offline DOMOVOII

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2004, 02:10:47 PM »
Can someone answer what Nicholas's fortune was included, the gross domestic product  of the entire country, his estates, his personal inherited finances.Art, Property?

He had a billion in gold bullion didn't he?

I'd always assumed that the Youssupov's fortune was greater than that of the Romanov's having had close ties to the throne, longer.

Heartening to see that although the richest heiress in Europe,Princess Zenaide Youssupov wasn't affected by her situation and chose her own path, married her own choice, held her own strong opinions and managed to hold on to her family through disastrous times.
A stand can be taken against an army of men, but no stand can be made against an invasion of an idea          V Hugo

james_h

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2004, 09:57:06 PM »
JD...

I think it important to remember that Rockefeller was one man, a business man, his fortune was large certainly, but his business did not cover one sixth of the earths surface. His business did not have the largest gold reserves in the world. His business did not have citizen population of 180 million.

It is also pertinent to remember that with the exception of the Stroganoff fortune the arisocratic fortunes of russia were granted by the Romanov's. Surely it stands to reason that a family who has the power to grant and confiscate such vast fortunes as the russian nobles they must indeed be unimaginably wealthy.

I believe that the Yussupov's fortune is over estimated. They lost half of it before 1859 (confiscated by the romanovs) and made some from the conquest of siberia.
A conquest I might point out that was entirely driven by the stroganoff family so it is unlikely any family made more out of the conquest of siberia  than the Stroganoffs.

Also an interesting note about Russian families they normally divided wealth equally to all children. Noteable exceptions to this wide spread practice were
Romanov
Sheremetev
Stroganoff
Yusupov

When I added the Golitsyns before the Yusupovs it was not because any one Golitsyn was wealthier. Rather is was a combined estimate for all the large fortunes of individual Golitsyns. Which when combined made it larger than  yusupov.

"The Aristocracy of Europe" by Dominic Lieven List the 63 Greatest serf owners of Russia in 1859.

james_h

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2004, 10:04:21 PM »
BTW

Felix Yusupov was never in control of the family fotune. He would have inherited it on the death of his father but the revolution ensured that never occured. Everyone knows the money came from his mothers family but upon her marriage to Count Elston, the count gained control of all her property- a patriarchal society :'(

Offline JD

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2004, 10:45:48 PM »
Yeah and he seemed like a real bastard from accounts I've read, probably married for money.

That book sounds interesting, I'll have to check it out.  I still would guess that most of those families are "Old Russia", at their height around the time of Catherine the Great, while the Yussupov's give them impression of being at the height of the wealth (or at least, not having fallen any) around Nicholas II's reign.  However that view might just be influenced by all the attention given to them because of the Rasputin connection.

I'm interested in your report that the Romanov's confiscated Yussupov property.  Doesn't seem like confiscating large amounts of property from other noble families would be a very wise thing for a ruling family to do.


Offline Annie

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2004, 08:47:04 AM »
Quote
Yeah and he seemed like a real bastard from accounts I've read, probably married for money.[/B]


Yes he did seem that way. He was also not interested in the arts, which Zenaida and her sons were, and most of her ancestors had been. In some palaces, he had the private theatres locked up and never used. In one line from his book, Felix said he thought his mother would have been happier with "a different sort of man." He also said his father was cold and distant to him and his brother. They were also forced to travel everywhere with 'an entourage of people my father could not live without' but that no one else liked.

Quote
That book sounds interesting, I'll have to check it out.  I still would guess that most of those families are "Old Russia", at their height around the time of Catherine the Great, while the Yussupov's give them impression of being at the height of the wealth (or at least, not having fallen any) around Nicholas II's reign.  However that view might just be influenced by all the attention given to them because of the Rasputin connection. [/B]


Most reports I've seen said the fortune was at its height at the time Felix was born in 1887. The Tsar's sister Olga used to say she thought they were richer than the Romanovs.

Quote
I'm interested in your report that the Romanov's confiscated Yussupov property.  Doesn't seem like confiscating large amounts of property from other noble families would be a very wise thing for a ruling family to do.


No, it doesn't. I wonder what was confiscated then, before Felix or even Zenaida were born, because they were still left with so much. Felix gave details of hidden rooms and storage areas of piles of dusty, forgotten jewels and paintings. He said in 1912 when he was touring the estates, one of them had not been visited in so long it had caved in, but the elaborate designs and paintings could still be seen on the walls. That was a lot of stuff, how much more did they have?

[/quote]

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2004, 01:08:17 AM »
While walking through the Nob Hill area of San Francisco one night, my husband and I spoke with Prince Andrei Andrievich Romanov about the wealth of the tsars. It was not a modern way of reckoning wealth, he told us. In terms of cash, there was not always a great deal, but theoretically, the tsar owned everything in Russia. There was no private property except to the exent he allowed it.

I related a family story that a collateral ancestor of mine had actually invented what would be called the Morse code but was prohibited from copywriting or patenting it because the tsar would not allow this - as he owned everything.

Offline JD

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2004, 02:28:55 AM »
Weird, I wonder why he wouldn't allow it if that's true.

I know that, in theory, the Tsar owned everything, but in practice this wasn't the case.  Their income was derived from the private possessions of the House of Romanov (which surely rivalled those of any other family?), and whatever the Imperial Treasury provided the Tsar with (am I correct that there were essentially two funds, one personal and one public?).  I believe he was given a yearly salary or budget, but I'm sure it was flexible. Perhaps part of what Prince Andrei (I'd be interested in hearing how you met him) meant was that the Tsar's wealth couldn't really be calculated because he got whatever he wanted, from the Treasury or whom- or whatever else (anyone know how strict his budget was?).  I can't remember where but I know I've read that, by the time he was done providing for his family, all the upkeep for his palaces and other possessions, and food, shelter and clothing for his staff and servants, there wasn't much left.


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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2004, 10:48:57 AM »
First the Tsar owned everything at his whim.  Private property was held at the Tsar's discretion.  That said, there were two separate "funds" or more appropriately in English "Chancelleries". One private to the Tsar, the other funded and supported all Govermental/Imperial agencies, but it all came from the same fundemental source, Imperial power.

You see things backwards due to the nature of modern governmental funding.  The Tsar did not request funds, he decided how they should be allocated. His Ministers requested funds from the Tsar for their Ministeries, not the other way around.  The Government was run completely out of the Tsar's funds, not to mention all of the pensions, entitlements, grants, and other expenses.  We have a rather amusing request from 1910, which essentially complains that the Tsar was spending too much money on buying cars, and the Ministry of the Court needed more money to manage the Garage, and was politely asking for increased funds.


What you read is that the "Privy" purse or private funds/properties the Tsar kept for his personal use was less than the Yussupov fortune by most accounts. So, theoretically, the Yussupovs had more "available capital", but in reality the Tsar could allocate funds as he wished. Nicholas, however, was extremely scrupulous about paying for certain things, like Livadia and many charities, out of his own pocket so as not to be seen as using "Government" money for private projects.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2004, 11:36:41 AM »
As to Paul Schilling von Canstatt's development of telegraphic code, the Tsar wanted it to remain a secret and did not allow anyone in Russia to hold a patent. Thus, it is possible that many things were invented in Russia and patented elsewhere. In my relative's case, someone apart from our family benefited financially from his work.

As to the Prince, a very dear friend of mine was kind enough to arrange an introduction for my husband and me. I have tried to not violate his privacy by writing too much about him, but if I can relate a story that will better explain Imperial Russia, I pray he doesn't have a problem with that.

Offline JD

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2004, 01:22:57 PM »
Quote
You see things backwards due to the nature of modern governmental funding.  The Tsar did not request funds, he decided how they should be allocated. His Ministers requested funds from the Tsar for their Ministeries, not the other way around.  The Government was run completely out of the Tsar's funds, not to mention all of the pensions, entitlements, grants, and other expenses.  We have a rather amusing request from 1910, which essentially complains that the Tsar was spending too much money on buying cars, and the Ministry of the Court needed more money to manage the Garage, and was politely asking for increased funds.


Interesting.  I had assumed this was another case of theory vs. practice, in that, sure the Tsar was supposed to be able to be in complete control of public funds, but in actuality the bureacracy more or less controlled the distribution.  But now I'm sure you're right.

Do you have any idea of what his yearly personal fund was (roughly), in current (or past) American dollars?  And how that compared to other royals or nobility of the day?

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Re: The Yusupov fortune before 1917 - richer than Romanovs?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2004, 02:34:52 PM »
According to Clarke in "The Lost Fortune of the Tsars" the 1913 values for  for Nicholas personal income:   2.5 million rubles a year (approx $100million today) income from personal land with a capital value of 100 million rubles (4 Billion dollars). 6.5 million ($300million) interest  from foreign bank deposits (perhaps another 100 million rubles in captial), 11 million rubles ($450million) from the State Budget, adding up to about 20 million rubles ($800million to a billion) annually.

The upkeep of the Grand Dukes alone, out of his pocket, was about 5million rubles ($200 million) alone, or about 25% of his income. Plus the funding for the Ministry of the Imperial Household, the cost of the Imperial Theatres (three in St. P and 2 in Moscow), the ballet schools, the Imperial Academy of Arts, the Archaelological Commission and the Museum of Alexander III.

The Winter Palace alone employed 1200 servants, all with wages and pensions, and the AP another 600. Also, all expenses to run his own personal administration office and the hundreds of individual petitions a year to him for money, either a Church needing repairs or someone with a particular need or cause.

The full extent of Nicholas' private wealth is almost impossible to estimate with any accuracy beyond this.  He very shrewedly kept many different people working on specific sections, so that no one would really know exactly how much he had.  Clarke estimates that perhaps only 2 or 3 people other than the Tsar, including Benkendorff , knew the real figures, and those people never repeated nor recorded the amount.

All sources seem to agree that the Tsar of Russia was by far the wealthiest monarch at the time.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »