Mdivani family papers

Mdivani family papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Library
Creator: Mdivani family
Title: Mdivani family papers
Dates: Bulk, 1930-1970
Dates: 1880s-2009
Quantity: 6.0 Linear feet (7 boxes and I oversize folder)
Coll. Number: ms3783

Biographical/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 Note

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.


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

Index Terms

Conan Doyle, Dennis, 1909-1955
Estates (property)
Georgia (Republic)
Mdivani, Alexis, 1907-1935
Mdivani, David, 1904-1984
Mdivani, Nina, 1901-1987
Mdivani, Roussadana, 1905-1938
Mdivani, Serge, 1903-1936
Photograph albums.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

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

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


1. Correspondence, 1922-1987

11Addressed to Nina Mdivani, possibly from Georgian relatives and friends, 1922-1966
2David Mdivani, 1925 December 19-1971 June 26
3Addressed to Nina Mdivani from her father, 1926-1932
4Nina Mdivani, 1932 March 31-1986 February 28
5Addressed to Nina from Dennis Conan Doyle, 1935 January 12-1953
6Dennis Conan Doyle, 1937 March 29-1953 September 26
7Nina and David Mdivani, 1938 August 11-1969 June 3
8Nina and David Mdivani, 1974 February 17-1984 March 24
9General, circa 1941-1981
10Virginia Sinclair, 1945 August 20-1966 October 18
11Addressed to Nina Mdivani from her Uncle Kostya, undated
12Anthony Harwood, 1950 December 5-1974 December 25
13Michael Mdivani, 1956 October 31-1987 February 24
14Addressed to Nina from Frederick Wright, Jr., 1965 June 29-1986 December 18
15Roussandana Mdivani, undated

2. Writings and Diaries, 1923-1945

116"Georgian Tales" by Nina Mdivani, 1923-1924
17Book on Georgia and General Zakhari Mdivani, circa 1934
18Anthony Harwood's diaries, 1943-1944, 1948
19Dennis Conan Doyle's diary, 1945
20Writings of Cecil Roberts and unidentified author, undated

3. Financial, 1935-1991

121Alexis Mdivani estate papers, 1935 October 1-1949 October 20
22Report of the Alexis Mdivani estate, 1936 February 28
23Sert estate papers, 1940 August 16-1950 October 20
24Conan Doyle estate, 1956 July 16-1991 October 18
25General, 1936 June 6-1965 December 20
26General, 1967 June 5-1987 February 11

4. Clippings, Bulk, 1930-1940, 1925-2008

1271925 July 18-1936 August 19
281938-2008 November 28

5. Scrapbooks, circa 1900-1981

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

6. Photographs, Bulk, 1930-1970, 1880s-1993

41Nina Mdivani's paternal grandparents' portrait
2Nina Mdivani's paternal grandmother portrait
3Mdivani family, circa 1905
4General Zakhari Mdivani portraits, circa 1905
5Portrait, possibly General Zakhari Mdivani
6Photograph of portrait painting, probably of General Zakhari Mdivani
7General 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
OS Folder
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
9Tsar Nicholas II portrait, circa 1890s
10Group photo featuring young Nicholas II in Caucasus Mountains
11Tsarina Alexandra portrait, circa 1908
12Maria Feodorovna portrait, 1897
13Madame Kavelina [?] portrait
14Elizabeth Mdivani portrait
15Elizabeth Mdivani in Russian court dress
16Unidentified mother and child, possibly Elizabeth and Nina Mdivani, circa 1901
17Portrait of Nina's Uncle Constantin [?] Mdivani
18Childhood portraits of Mdivani siblings, circa 1901-1912
19Nina Mdivani in Georgian national dress, Roussadana Mdivani as Hamlet, and unidentified men, possibly relatives
20Childhood portraits of Nina Mdivani, circa 1901-1912
21Nina Mdivani portraits, circa 1920s-1940s
22Nina Mdivani portraits, circa 1950s-1960s
23Andy Warhol photographing Nina Mdivani
24Group photo, Nina Mdivani at center, at right on reverse, circa 1960s
25Nina Mdivani in gondola in Venice
26Group photo on matchbook with Nina Mdivani in center, at right on reverse, circa 1960s
27Young Dennis Conan Doyle with his father, circa 1909-1912
OS Folder
1Lady Conan Doyle in her court dress
428Dennis Conan Doyle as a child, 1909-1918
29Dennis Conan Doyle portraits, circa 1930s
30Conan Doyle houses
31Chapel at St. Donat's Castle in Wales before wedding of Dennis Conan Doyle and Nina Mdivani, 1936 August 18
32Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle in car on wedding day, 1936 August 18
33Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle portrait, circa 1930s
34Dennis Conan Doyle at event in Mysore, India
35Dennis Conan Doyle big-game hunting in India
36Dennis Conan Doyle with snake in India, 1955
37Dennis, Nina Conan Doyle, et al at beach and swimming pool, circa 1940s
38Group photo, Dennis Conan Doyle at left, with unidentified couple
39Group photo, Dennis Conan Doyle at right and Nina Conan Doyle in center
40Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle at event
41Group photo, Dennis and Nina Conan Doyle at right
42Mercedes automobile, probably belonging to the Conan Doyle family, circa 1930s
43Dennis Conan Doyle's Mercedes-Benz, circa 1937
44Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce sedan
45Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce in New York, 1975
46Nina Mdivani's Rolls Royce in Hyde Park, circa 1975
47Anthony Harwood portraits, 1930s-1950s
48Serge Mdivani portraits, 1920s-1930s
49Serge Mdivani playing polo, 1930s
50Serge Mdivani and Louise Van Alen, circa 1936
51David Mdivani portraits, circa 1920s
52David Mdivani portraits, circa 1960s
53David and Virginia Sinclair Mdivani on a ski trip
54Group photo featuring David Mdivani seated second from the right
55Group photo, David Mdivani in dark jacket
56Mae Murray in The Merry Widow, 1925
57David Mdivani at home in Los Angeles, circa 1969
58David Mdivani with unidentified woman to his left
59Group photo featuring David Mdivani, second from left
60Virginia Sinclair Mdivani with her son Michael, circa 1948
61Virginia Sinclair Mdivani at home in Los Angeles, 1969
62Group photo, (left to right) Virginia Sinclair, Betty Blake Rogers, Fred MacMurray, and Mrs. Watterson Rounds Rothacker at luncheon for Virgnia, 1936 February
63Sinclair family certificates and recognition
64Photograph of portrait drawing of Harry Ford Sinclair, circa 1990s
65Michael Mdivani, 1969-1980
66Tombs of Elizabeth Sinclair and Michael Mdivani, circa 1993
67Roussadana Mdivani portraits, 1920s-1930s
68Roussadana Mdivani negatives, 1930s
69Roussadana Mdivani and her sculpture, 1920s-1930s
70Roussadana's sculpture negatives, circa 1925
71Roussadana Mdivani and her Spanish villa
72Group photo, Roussadana Mdivani at far right
73Roussadana Mdivani and Bertrand de Jouvenel
74Roussadana Mdivani, at left of unidentified woman, in a horse-drawn sleigh
75Roussadana Mdivani's boat, St. Alexis
76Roussadana Mdivani and Francis Graham [?] in the Hague
77Roussadana Mdivani with animals
78Alexis Mdivani portraits
79Group photos featuring Alexis Mdivani, circa 1930s
80Alexis Mdivani and his orchestra playing at school, 1920s
81Alexis Mdivani playing golf, circa 1930s
82Alexis Mdivani hunting tigers, circa 1920s-1930s
83Alexis Mdivani at polo team event, 1931 September
84Alexis Mdivani playing polo, circa 1930s
6Photo album, Alexis Mdivani playing polo, circa 1930s
485Alexis Mdivani playing polo in India, circa 1930s
86Wedding albums of Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton, 1933 June 22
87Photographs removed from wedding album of Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton, 1933 June
88Alexis Mdivani and Barbara Hutton
89Barbara Hutton portrait, 1931
90Group photo featuring Barbara Hutton with Alexis Mdivani and Hutton's father, Frank W. Woolworth, circa 1931
91Probably Barbara Hutton reading a book
92Group photos of Mdivani siblings on a boat
93Group photos of Mdivani siblings and others with horses
94Alexis and Roussadana Mdivani
95David and Roussadana Mdivani in front seats of a Mercedes, unidentified man in rear
96Group photo, David Mdivani, standing, and Nina Mdivani, seated, at spectator event
97Group photo, Mdivani siblings, minus David, and probably Barbara Hutton on airport tarmac, circa 1930s
98Group photo, Serge Mdivani, standing, and David Mdivani and Marshal Crane, seated, circa 1917
99Group photo at the beach, David and Nina Mdivani are 1st and 3rd from the left
100Negatives, circa 1930s
101Silhouettes with accompanying letter, 1970 May 11
102Lorenzo Reid Fornari [?] in gondola in Venice, 1986
103Marshall Crane military portrait
104Berks and Bucks Staghounds at the Hotel de Paris
105Portraits of Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, and note with illustration of Chomolhari, 1940s
106L'Arlésienne by Vincent Van Gogh and unidentified painting, probably also by Van Gogh
107Objects and furniture belonging to Nina Mdivani
108Waldorf-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
110Storefront of Laurel Book Center with Sherlock Holmes display
111George Smith at Windlesham Cottage
112Unidentified people
113Unidentified locations

7. Genealogy, 1922-2009

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

8. Printed Material, 1925-1990

72Alexis Mdivani's Cambridge menu cards, 1925-1928
3Gift tags, name cards, programs, advertisements, luggage tags, and invitation, circa 1926-1990 ( 1.0 folder(s) )
OS Folder
1Cadastral maps of Windlesham Cottage, 1965

9. Artifacts, undated

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