Mdivani family papers

Mdivani family papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Mdivani family papers
Creator: Mdivani family
Inclusive Dates: 1880s-2009
Bulk Dates: 1930-1970
Language(s): English
Extent: 6 Linear Feet (7 boxes and I oversize folder)
Collection Number: ms3783
Repository: Hargrett Library

Collection Description

Historical Note

Elizabeth and Zakhari Mdivani and their five children were Georgian nobles that fled their homeland after the Russian Revolution. Zakhari Mdivani served as a general under Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar. Settling throughout Western Europe and the United States and styling themselves as "princes and princesses," each of the five children would go on to have multiple marriages—often to affluent public figures—that brought them great wealth, media attention, and turmoil.

Nina Mdivani (1901-1987) married American attorney and legal scholar Charles Huberich in 1925 and they divorced 1936. That year Nina wed Dennis Conan Doyle, eldest son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Upon Dennis' death in 1955, Nina became the executor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate and she married Dennis Doyles' secretary Anthony Harwood.

Serge Mdivani (1903-1936) married silent film star Pola Negri in 1927. He mishandled her five million dollar fortune pursuing business ventures and they divorced in 1931. Serge then married wealthy opera star Mary McCormic who backed him and his brother in an oil rig scheme that nearly bankrupted her. They divorced and Serge married his former sister-in-law, Louise Van Alen, in 1936. He died shortly thereafter when he was kicked in the head by a pony in a polo match.

David Mdivani (1904-1984) married film star Mae Murray in 1926. The next year they had a son who would eventually be adopted by another family after a fierce custody battle. When they divorced Murray was left bankrupt. In 1944 David married oil heiress Virginia Sinclair, and they had a son Michael.

Roussadana "Roussie" Mdivani (1905-1938) was a sculptor who designed the Harmon Trophy, an aviation award. She married Spanish painter José Maria Sert in 1928 and died in 1938.

Alexis Mdivani (1907-1935) married wealthy socialite Louise Astor Van Alen in 1931 (later to be married to Serge, briefly). They were only wed for a short time when Alexis began pursuing Barbara Hutton, the richest woman in the world. Alexis divorced Van Alen and married Hutton in 1933. They divorced in 1935 and Alexis began a relationship with Maud Thyssen, whom he met through his friendship with Salvador Dali. That year, Alexis and Ms. Thyssen were involved in an automobile accident in Spain which killed Alexis and disfigured Thyssen.

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of correspondence, financial papers, clippings, and photographs. The correspondence documents the written communication of the Mdivani siblings, spouses, and other relatives, as well as friends and acquaintances, and focuses on family, health, and social life, among other topics. The financial papers in the collection consist of legal documents about the estates of the deceased, communication with attorneys, banks, and retailers, inventories of assets, and receipts from large purchases. The clippings, which date largely from the 1930s, mainly cover weddings, divorces, and deaths in the Mdivani family, as well as their social lives, hobbies, and gossip surrounding their relationships. Photographs document the lives of all five Mdivani siblings and their many spouses and include images of childhood and family life, weddings, social events, travels, residences, hobbies, personal belongings, recreation, and the military career of General Zakhari Mdivani.

The collection also includes the diaries of Dennis Conan Doyle and Anthony Harwood, scrapbooks, genealogy, and artifacts, such as Conan Doyle's racing trophy.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged by record type into nine series: correspondence, writings and diaries, financial, clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, genealogy, printed material, and artifacts.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Mdivani family papers, ms3783, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2013.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


1. Correspondence, 1922-1987

11Addressed to Nina Mdivani, possibly from Georgian relatives and friends, 1922-1966
12David Mdivani, 1925 December 19-1971 June 26
13Addressed to Nina Mdivani from her father, 1926-1932
14Nina Mdivani, 1932 March 31-1986 February 28
15Addressed to Nina from Dennis Conan Doyle, 1935 January 12-1953
16Dennis Conan Doyle, 1937 March 29-1953 September 26
17Nina and David Mdivani, 1938 August 11-1969 June 3
18Nina and David Mdivani, 1974 February 17-1984 March 24
19General, circa 1941-1981
110Virginia Sinclair, 1945 August 20-1966 October 18
111Addressed to Nina Mdivani from her Uncle Kostya, undated
112Anthony Harwood, 1950 December 5-1974 December 25
113Michael Mdivani, 1956 October 31-1987 February 24
114Addressed to Nina from Frederick Wright, Jr., 1965 June 29-1986 December 18
115Roussandana Mdivani, undated

2. Writings and Diaries, 1923-1945

116"Georgian Tales" by Nina Mdivani, 1923-1924
117Book on Georgia and General Zakhari Mdivani, circa 1934
118Anthony Harwood's diaries, 1943-1944, 1948
119Dennis Conan Doyle's diary, 1945
120Writings of Cecil Roberts and unidentified author, undated

3. Financial , 1935-1991

121Alexis Mdivani estate papers, 1935 October 1-1949 October 20
122Report of the Alexis Mdivani estate, 1936 February 28
123Sert estate papers, 1940 August 16-1950 October 20
124Conan Doyle estate, 1956 July 16-1991 October 18
125General, 1936 June 6-1965 December 20
126General, 1967 June 5-1987 February 11

4. Clippings, 1925-2008 (1930-1940)

1271925 July 18-1936 August 19
1281938-2008 November 28

5. Scrapbooks, circa 1900-1981

2Photographs, clippings, and correspondence, circa 1900-1981
2Elizabeth Mdivani's guestbook, 1915-1920
2Clippings about Roussadana Mdivani's sculpture, 1923-1926
2Weddings and Roussadana Mdivani's sculpture, 1925-1932
2Clippings about the Mdivani oil case, 1931-1934
3Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle's correspondence and photographs, 1935-1942
3Weddings, divorces, and auto races, 1936
3Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle's wedding, 1936 August
3Clippings, postcards, and travel correspondence, circa 1936-1954
3Clippings about Dennis Conan Doyle, 1940-1954
3Correspondence, receipts, and illustrations of clothing and luxury goods, 1946-1984
3Alexis Mdivani's Harbin Club book, 1934 February 28

6. Photographs, 1880s-1993 (1930-1970)

41Nina Mdivani's paternal grandparents' portrait
42Nina Mdivani's paternal grandmother portrait
43Mdivani family , circa 1905
44General Zakhari Mdivani portraits, circa 1905
45Portrait, possibly General Zakhari Mdivani
46Photograph of portrait painting, probably of General Zakhari Mdivani
47General Zakhari Mdivani and military officials in service of Tsar Nicholas II
6Photo album, General Zakhari Mdivani and military officials in service of Tsar Nicholas II
1General Zakhari Mdivani and military officials in service of Tsar Nicholas II
5Negatives of General Zakhari Mdivani and military officials in service of Tsar Nicholas II
48Zakhari Mdivani with class in cadet school, circa 1880s
49Tsar Nicholas II portrait, circa 1890s
410Group photo featuring young Nicholas II in Caucasus Mountains
411Tsarina Alexandra portrait, circa 1908
412Maria Feodorovna portrait, 1897
413Madame Kavelina [?] portrait
414Elizabeth Mdivani portrait
415Elizabeth Mdivani in Russian court dress
416Unidentified mother and child, possibly Elizabeth and Nina Mdivani, circa 1901
417Portrait of Nina's Uncle Constantin [?] Mdivani
418Childhood portraits of Mdivani siblings, circa 1901-1912
419Nina Mdivani in Georgian national dress, Roussadana Mdivani as Hamlet, and unidentified men, possibly relatives
420Childhood portraits of Nina Mdivani, circa 1901-1912
421Nina Mdivani portraits, circa 1920s-1940s
422Nina Mdivani portraits, circa 1950s-1960s
423Andy Warhol photographing Nina Mdivani
424Group photo, Nina Mdivani at center, at right on reverse, circa 1960s
425Nina Mdivani in gondola in Venice
426Group photo on matchbook with Nina Mdivani in center, at right on reverse, circa 1960s
427Young Dennis Conan Doyle with his father, circa 1909-1912
1Lady Conan Doyle in her court dress
428Dennis Conan Doyle as a child, 1909-1918
429Dennis Conan Doyle portraits, circa 1930s
430Conan Doyle houses
431Chapel at St. Donat's Castle in Wales before wedding of Dennis Conan Doyle and Nina Mdivani, 1936 August 18
432Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle in car on wedding day, 1936 August 18
433Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle portrait, circa 1930s
434Dennis Conan Doyle at event in Mysore, India
435Dennis Conan Doyle big-game hunting in India
436Dennis Conan Doyle with snake in India, 1955
437Dennis, Nina Conan Doyle, et al at beach and swimming pool, circa 1940s
438Group photo, Dennis Conan Doyle at left, with unidentified couple
439Group photo, Dennis Conan Doyle at right and Nina Conan Doyle in center
440Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle at event
441Group photo, Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle at right
442Mercedes automobile, probably belonging to the Conan Doyle family, circa 1930s
443Dennis Conan Doyle's Mercedes-Benz, circa 1937
444Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce sedan
445Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce in New York, 1975
446Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce in Hyde Park, circa 1975
447Anthony Harwood portraits, 1930s-1950s
448Serge Mdivani portraits, 1920s-1930s
449Serge Mdivani playing polo, 1930s
450Serge Mdivani and Louise Van Alen, circa 1936
451David Mdivani portraits, circa 1920s
452David Mdivani portraits, circa 1960s
453David and Virginia Sinclair Mdivani on a ski trip
454Group photo featuring David Mdivani seated second from the right
455Group photo, David Mdivani in dark jacket
456Mae Murray in The Merry Widow, 1925
457David Mdivani at home in Los Angeles, circa 1969
458David Mdivani with unidentified woman to his left
459Group photo featuring David Mdivani, second from left
460Virginia Sinclair Mdivani with her son Michael, circa 1948
461Virginia Sinclair Mdivani at home in Los Angeles, 1969
462Group photo, (left to right) Virginia Sinclair, Betty Blake Rogers, Fred MacMurray, and Mrs. Watterson Rounds Rothacker at luncheon for Virgnia, 1936 February
463Sinclair family certificates and recognition
464Photograph of portrait drawing of Harry Ford Sinclair, circa 1990s
465Michael Mdivani, 1969-1980
466Tombs of Elizabeth Sinclair and Michael Mdivani , circa 1993
467Roussadana Mdivani portraits, 1920s-1930s
468Roussadana Mdivani negatives, 1930s
469Roussadana Mdivani and her sculpture, 1920s-1930s
470Roussadana's sculpture negatives, circa 1925
471Roussadana Mdivani and her Spanish villa
472Group photo, Roussadana Mdivani at far right
473Roussadana Mdivani and Bertrand de Jouvenel
474Roussadana Mdivani, at left of unidentified woman, in a horse-drawn sleigh
475Roussadana Mdivani's boat, St. Alexis
476Roussadana Mdivani and Francis Graham [?] in the Hague
477Roussadana Mdivani with animals
478Alexis Mdivani portraits
479Group photos featuring Alexis Mdivani, circa 1930s
480Alexis Mdivani and his orchestra playing at school, 1920s
481Alexis Mdivani playing golf, circa 1930s
482Alexis Mdivani hunting tigers, circa 1920s-1930s
483Alexis Mdivani at polo team event, 1931 September
484Alexis Mdivani playing polo, circa 1930s
6Photo album, Alexis Mdivani playing polo, circa 1930s
485Alexis Mdivani playing polo in India, circa 1930s
486Wedding albums of Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton, 1933 June 22
487Photographs removed from wedding album of Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton, 1933 June
488Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton
489Barbara Hutton portrait, 1931
490Group photo featuring Barbara Hutton with Alexis Mdivani and Hutton's father, Frank W. Woolworth, circa 1931
491Probably Barbara Hutton reading a book
492Group photos of Mdivani siblings on a boat
493Group photos of Mdivani siblings and others with horses
494Alexis and Roussadana Mdivani
495David and Roussadana Mdivani in front seats of a Mercedes, unidentified man in rear
496Group photo, David Mdivani, standing, and Nina Mdivani, seated, at spectator event
497Group photo, Mdivani siblings, minus David, and probably Barbara Hutton on airport tarmac, circa 1930s
498Group photo, Serge Mdivani, standing, and David Mdivani and Marshal Crane, seated, circa 1917
499Group photo at the beach, David and Nina Mdivani are 1st and 3rd from the left
4100Negatives, circa 1930s
4101Silhouettes with accompanying letter, 1970 May 11
4102Lorenzo Reid Fornari [?] in gondola in Venice, 1986
4103Marshall Crane military portrait
4104Berks and Bucks Staghounds at the Hotel de Paris
4105Portraits of Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, and note with illustration of Chomolhari, 1940s
4106L'Arlésienne by Vincent Van Gogh and unidentified painting, probably also by Van Gogh
4107Objects and furniture belonging to Nina Mdivani
4108Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York, 1931 August 13
6Photo album, residences and possessions
4109Exteriors of residence, possibly the Spanish villa of José Maria Sert and Roussadana Mdivani Sert, circa 1935
4110Storefront of Laurel Book Center with Sherlock Holmes display
4111George Smith at Windlesham Cottage
4112Unidentified people
4113Unidentified locations

7. Genealogy, 1922-2009

71General, 1922-2009
1Serge Mdivani passport, 1920s

8. Printed Material, 1925-1990

72Alexis Mdivani's Cambridge menu cards, 1925-1928
73Gift tags, name cards, programs, advertisements, luggage tags, and invitation, circa 1926-1990 ( 1 folder(s) )
1Cadastral maps of Windlesham Cottage, 1965

9. Artifacts

8Dennis Conan Doyle's racing trophy, 1936 April 24
8Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pipe
8Silver plaque
8Alexis Mdivani's key

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