Monday, November 9, 2009

Grand Duke Boris dead in Paris

November 9, 1943

Paris radio is reporting that Grand Duke Boris of Russia, a cousin of the late Czar Nicholas II, died "last night" in Paris. He would have been 66 years old on Friday.

The AP's obituary notes that the Grand Duke "was a gay and colorful figure in the capitals of Europe before and after the Russian revolution."

Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovitch was born at St. Petersburg on November 12, 1877, the son of Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna. He served in the army in the Russo-Japanese war and in the first World War and "was decorated for gallantry." In 1917, Boris and members of his entourage "were arrested for a purported plot to place Grand Duke Nicholas on the throne."
During the Russian revolution, Boris escaped to Italy, and was active "in efforts to establish his elder brother," Kirill as Czar.

In the "turbulent post-war period considerable mystery" surrounded Boris' finances. In 1923, he acquired a chateau, and friends said he had "recouped his fortune." But two years later, when Boris came to the United States, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, then a member of Congress, "sought an inquiry into the source of his funds for the visit."

LaGuardia inquired if Boris was an "assisted alien visitor." The Grand Duke's friends called the "inquiry outrageous."

Although Grand Duke Boris's name "was linked to many eligible princesses," he chose to marry Zinaide Sergeivna Rachevsky in Genoa in 1919. The marriage was morganatic, and Zinaide was not styled as Grand Duchess. The couple had no children. Zinaide's brother, Vladimir, lives in the United States, and in 1930, was named head of the New York's Ambassador Hotel.

In 1929, during Boris' final visit to the United States, he filed suit in the New York Supreme Court against the National City Bank to "to recover a deposit of 100,000 rubles made in its Petrograd branch in January 1917." Boris lost the case because the bank was never able to recover its assets after "their seizure by the Soviet government."

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