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Mdivani,a Georgian noble family

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An interesting family, to be sure.

They were a group of siblings who fled to Paris after the Russian Revolution and reinvented themselves as Russian nobility. The patriarch, Zakharias, first emerged in Paris in 1923. His children became known as the "Marrying Mdivanis", due to the prominence & wealth they achieved through their various marriages. Zakharias, once quipped that he was the only man to inherit a princely title from his children, and not the other way around. One site said that Zakharias was a former aide-de-camp of Emperor Nicholas of Russia. At the time of the Mdivani/Hutton marriage, in the face of sniping about the family's lineage, Barbara Hutton remarked that "Alexis has a right to be proud of the title which has been in his family for generations." A Hutton aunt tried to raise the issue of the Mdivanis possibly being Muslim but friends of the family said variously that the sibilngs had either been baptized Christian, renounced Islam or never seriously practiced any religion. Zakharias would die in spring 1933 of uremia and heart disease in Paris.

In 1933, at the time of the divorces of Serge & Mary and David & Mae, Time magazine wrote that "While Mae Murray was pondering whether to divorce her David, he and Brother Serge struck oil back of her bath house at Venice, Calif. They organized the Pacific Shore Oil Co. with Actress Murray putting up most of the cash. Stock was sold to every available member of the cinema colony...Wives Mae Murray and Mary McCormic, convinced that their absent husbands are highly solvent, were in court suing them respectively for divorce and separate maintenance. Brother David, according to Princess Mae...has been drawing $500 monthly from the oil company for which she "put up the money." Naming $1,000 as Brother Serge's oil income. Princess Mary charged "cruelty" in her suit for separate maintenance, got an order attaching Serge's Los Angeles bank account last week, found it empty. Joining forces, the two Hollywood Princesses inspired a stockholders meeting which ousted the Princes from their oil company directorships, elected Princess Mary's lawyer president of Pacific Shore Oil and Princess Mae's lawyer vice president. "I have the most terrible dreams, do you too, Mae?" cried Princess Mary. "No," snapped Princess Mae shortly, "I haven't had enough sleep to dream."

In 1934, Time reported that "His [Alexis] less reputable brothers, Serge and David, were held in Los Angeles on charges of grand theft from their bankrupt Pacific Shore Oil Co. In Manhattan Alexis had de posited to their account $20,000 that Los Angeles police wanted explained. Ingloriously he was obliged to abandon his bride in her $120,000 private railroad car at Reno, fly around California and its subpoenas to Seattle. Princess Barbara chose to see all she could of her San Francisco friends instead of following her husband. Said Alexis, 15 days from rejoining his wife, "I'll be glad when this voyage is over." Said Princess Barbara, "It is silly to say that money is a bore....Bright & early one morning Alexis Mdivani, best married of the three marrying Georgian princelings, left his rooms in London's swank Hotel Claridge and drove out to Ranelagh for some polo. No sooner had he left than his young wife, Barbara Hutton Mdivani, flounced out of Claridge's too, and retreated to a private sanatorium. Her doctor announced that she could see no one, not even the Prince. Thus began the twelfth month of the Hutton-Mdivani round-the-world honeymoon. For the next two days Alexis allowed nothing to interrupt his polo (on a magnificent string of ponies given him by his wife as a wedding present). Said he: "I am not worried about Barbara's condition. I hope to see her as soon as possible." Meanwhile Franklyn L. Hutton, Barbara's father, was speeding for England aboard the S. S. Bremen. Prince Alexis: "It will be impossible for me to return with them. ... I shall be playing polo." On the fourth day of his wife's retreat Prince Alexis drove to Southampton, met Mr. and Mrs. Hutton. "Prince Mdivani is a square shooter and a great fellow," announced Mr. Hutton. They all drove up to London together. Late that afternoon Mr. Hutton was closeted with his daughter in her sanatorium. That evening Princess Barbara left the sanatorium, rushed to the side of her Prince. Said Mr. Hutton: "I only came here to see a dentist about my teeth." Said Prince Alexis: "I wonder how all these rumors started. They cannot say I chase other women. ... I do not drink or take drugs. What is left? Polo." Bright & early next morning he left his rooms and drove out to Hurlingham for some polo. "

Alexis Mdivani (died 1935), married 21-year-old Louise Astor Van Alen (William Astor's great-granddaughter ) in 1931, but divorced her to marry 20-year-old Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. He had lingered around in Bangkok where the Woolworth heiress was due to arrive on a cruise and the young woman was quickly won over. "The cruise ended without formal engagement, but rumors of Alexis' Hutton coup flooded the heart of every Paris gigolo with copious bile. A Prince Nicho las Dadiant, self appointed "Marshal of the Georgian Nobility" in Paris, hissed that Mdivani means "secretary" in Georgian." A marriage contract was drawn up granting Alexis a fat dowry but keeping "complete control of the disposition of her entire property" for Hutton. Included in the contract, but not made public, was the amount Alexis would inherit in case of his wife's death. The Mdivani/Hutton union is first legalized in a civil ceremony, then later in a religious ceremony at the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris with all the rituals of the church and, in accordance with the Russian custom, crowns are held over the bride and groom during the ceremony. "The church was jammed. Three thousand people stood on the sidewalk, lost their tempers, punched each other's faces, nearly ruined the bride's dress (Patou) and had a grand time." Prince Prince Theodore of Russia was one of Alexis's attendants who helped hold the gold crowns over the couple's heads. Barbara remarked that "I like the leisurely life Alexis leads. Once an American marries a girl he wraps himself up in business again. . . . It's going to be fun being a princess." Her father remarks that ""Prince Alexis has worked real hard to marry my daughter. It's unfortunate his first marriage was unhappy. I am sure Barbara will be happy with her Prince." By 1933, rumors are ripe that the 'princedom' is a pig farm in Georgia, Russia. By January 1934, when he "boarded the S. S. Hikawa Maru in Vancouver bound for Yokohama. At 2 that afternoon his beauteous, wilful bride of six months, 5-&-10¢ Heiress Barbara Hutton Mdivani, boarded the S. S. Tatsuta Maru in San Francisco, also bound for Yokohama. Somewhat delayed, the disillusionment that usually follows marriage to a Mdivani set in last fortnight. Westward bound from Manhattan on a world honeymoon tour, Prince Alexis was told at Reno, Nev., that California process servers were waiting for him." They would reconcile and in late 1934 they would celebrate her birthday in lavish style. "For the party, which cost $10,000, her polo-loving husband Prince Alexis had virtuous apologies: "We didn't think it fitting to spend too much in these times." For his twinkling wife he had a diamond bracelet. "I hope," said he, "that everyone will now realize we are happily married." Last week Prince Alexis kissed his wife goodby, was off to India and polo. Princess Barbara would reach Manhattan just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with her father. Early next year the Mdivanis expect to see each other in Indo-China." [Time magazine] He and Hutton divorced in Reno in 1935. "We agreed to part only legally. . . . Alec to me is one of the finest men I have ever known. . . . No man could be nobler."  Alexis is a close friend of Spanish painter Salvador Dali and stays with his lover, 26-year-old Else Zarske, a.k.a. Baroness Maud von Thyssen-Bornemisza, at the villa of his sister’s husband, José Maria Sert. Maud is the divorced second wife of Heinrich Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon. In August 1935, while driving his Rolls Royce en route to Perpignan at 87 mph (supposedly to take Maud to catch a train), he dies in a car crash a few miles away from Mas Juny, Spain. He had careened into a culvert, turned over five times and was pronounced dead on the spot. Maud is reported as only slightly injured but also as having bit her tongue off and was rendered permanently speechless. He is interred in Palamós, Spain. Barbara Hutton told reporters that ""I am terribly, terribly sorry. I am not surprised. I always felt something like this would happen. He drove like mad." Time magazine described him as the "indisputably most successful of the marrying Mdivanis" since he never went to Hollywood but rather confined himself to the "hard money fortunes of the East". He left an estate worth $2,985,908.

Serge Mdivani (died 1936), the "sleekest " and handsomest of the brothers married 32-year-old actress Pola Negri in 1927 in Seraincourt, France. It was her second marriage, and she was six years his senior. When Negri lost her fortune in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, he abandoned her (the grounds she sued for divorce on) and took up with Mary MacCormick, soprano of the Chicago Civic Opera. MacCormick was also named by Negri in the divorce petition. Mary would later divorce him in a highly-publicized trial on the grounds of cruelty (he threatened to "maim and disfigure" her, called her "terrible names," locked her in the bathroom, paid no bills according to Time). "Two days later Mary heard that a hotel hostess named Grace Null was in a Los Angeles newspaper office hawking details of the property settlement. Raging, she sped thither, slapped the informant soundly. Prince Serge defended Miss Williams: "She had a perfect right. . . . I have given her the keeping of all my private papers. She is writing my life story." Property settlement: Prince Serge exchanged $15,000 in notes for Singer McCormic's claim to a half interest in Pacific Shore Oil Co." He then married his former sister-in-law, Louise, in February 1936 in Palm Beach, but died in March in a polo accident in Delray Beach, Florida when his polo pony fell and kicked him in the head as Louise stood on the sidelines. His death came just 7 months after his brother's.  Louise would marry in 1937 Alexander Saunderson and be happily married for 50 years.

David Mdivani (died 1984) was, according to Time, "the oldest and shaggiest" and curly-haired. He became the 4th husband of actress Mae Murray,who wanted a 'Prince' just like rival Gloria Swanson, and had a son, Koran David, with her. After he bankrupted her, she divorced him on grounds of  "extreme cruelty, unreasonable jealousy, hostility toward her guests" in 1933 and they became involved in a fierce custody battle over their child. He was involved with French actress Arletty. He entered the US Army in Dec. 1942. David (age 44) then married Sinclair Oil heiress Virginia Sinclair (age 29) in 1944 in Las Vegas, and they had another son. They divorced in Feb. 1964 with her claiming mental cruelty (she said he harassed her continually).

Isabelle Roussadana Mdivani (died 1938), aka Roussie or Roussy. She was described as dark as handsome. Roussadana had a small talent in sculpture. She went to Hollywood to make busts of movie stars but quickly discovered that titles were more salable. "With her first commissions she began importing her brothers." She, young enough to be his daughter, married the Spanish painter (muralist) José María Sert in 1928, a friend of Alfonso XIII. [He was chosen by John Rockefeller, along with Diego Rivera, in the famous mural painting episode at the RCA Building in New York and had also painted the Duke of Alba's elaborate Palacio de Liria.There was also the Sert Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Paris critics credited some of his paintings with "the potency of a Michelangelo . . . daring of a Goya . . . more than one reminiscence of the great Venetian colorists like Veronese and Tiepolo." His works also hang in Spanish cathedrals, in the Royal Palace at Madrid, in Barcelona's municipal building.] He had previously been married to Misia Sert, the pianist and godmother of European artists. "She [Misia] had a pathetic way of attracting younger women into her circle who could be counted on to steal her man. Roussy Mdivani, the lovely girl who made off with Sert, whom Misia adored, actually managed to crawl into their bedroom the last time Sert made love to his wife without Misia's realizing it at the time. " Misia didn't hold a grudge,  "The poor girl was not responsible for the feeling she had for you." she wrote Sert. "I found it very natural that she should adore you." Roussy would design the King Albert Memorial Medal for flying. She would inherit $209,000 from her brother Alexis upon his death. At his death in 1935, trusts established for him the year before by Barbara Hutton went to Roussadara Sert, Mdivani's sister.

Nina Mdivani. She married firstly Charles H. Huberich, Toledo-born scholar of international law in Manhattan. They divorced in 1936 (the same week Princess Xenia's ex-husband William Leeds remarried) in the Hague when Charles was 59. She married secondly Denis Conan Doyle, a son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes in Aug. 1936 in Bridgend, Wales. Denis was described as a spiritualist by profession. Upon arriving in Manhattan after the marriage, he told reporters that he was in constant communication with his late father. "My father has never failed to advise me on my personal and business relations. Not once since he died six years ago has he advised me wrong. The only time I did not follow his instructions I was nearly killed." In 1948, she lost a jeweled brooch, shaped like a hand, with rubies on the fingernails and a sprinkling of diamond stars and emeralds along the Champs Elysées . Time magazine reported that she advertised her loss in the papers and let it go at that. "Even Sherlock Holmes would have told the police in such a case," mumbled Paris' police chief. "His daughter-in-law had better consult us if she wants her brooch back." (In 1935 Nina dropped $8,000 worth of jewels on the street, where they were picked up by some little boys. Police returned them to her.) "


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