Michael Sergeyevich Plaoutine (1873 - 1918)
— "The Morning Post" Thursday, 10 Sep 1873, page 8:
De Plaoutine. – On Thursday, the 28th ult., at Tsarsko-Selo, Russia, the wife Colonel de Plaoutine, A.D.C. to His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, of a son.
— Notes about Mikahil Plautin from the memories of his step-daughter, Ella Cordasco:
My Mother's Russian Husband.
Among the hundreds of victims in the wave of arrests which followed the assassination of Uritsky was my mother's Russian husband, Mikhail Sergeievich Plaoutine. The assassin, as Mr. Dobson described, was a young man who fled from the scene on his bicycle and then took refuge in the nearest doorway, which happened to be that of the "English Club". Incidentally, his name was Kannegiesser. When we lived at the Vice-Consulate in Nicolaiev, it was on the corner of the Bolshaya Morskaya and the Navarinskaya; on the corner diagonally opposite us was the house of the Kannegiesser family.
The "English Club", as already said, had no English members. It was in the Millionnaya, and drew its members from the upper ranks of Russian society. Mikhail Sergeievich was a member, and he certainly belonged to that category. He was an officer in a guards cavalry regiment, and was aide-de-camp to one of the Grand Dukes. His family was one of those who considered themselves too grand to need a title. They owned large estates somewhere in central Russia, where they bred race-horses. They were related to the family of Prince Oginsky in Poland, and had inherited estates and forests in Southern Poland, a palace in Krakow, houses in Riga and other properties in Kurland. Their house in Petrograd was also in the Millionnaya, the street parallel to the Palace Quay, leading out of the great square in front of the Winter Palace, alongside which, was the famous "Hermitage" art gallery; next to that was a military establishment, and a few doors along, the Plaoutine's.
It was built in the French style, and had a great porte-cochere leading into a courtyard which contained the stables and coach-houses. It had three storeys; Mikhail Sergeivich lived on the top floor. The apartment was not large by local standards - it did not have a ball-room, but it was lavishly furnished; the study, drawing-room, dining-room, and Mother`s boudoir were filled with pictures and objets d'art. A long corridor led past the main bedroom to the kitchen and servants quarters, a long series of rooms overlooking the courtyard, housing four or five servants. These would include the coachman, grooms, and stable-boys who looked after the carriages and horses. Mother never minded that it took them over an hour to harness up, and get the coachman dressed in his livery of traditional Russian style, the long-skirted coat reaching the soles of his boots, worn over a thickly padded lining to make the figure more imposing, with a gold-embroided belt or sash, and fur-trimmed hat.
Such a very elegant turnout was worth waiting for and Mother loved it. She was especially fond of the two former race-horses "Mirage" and "Molodchik"; she always had lumps of sugar for them. Needless to say, she herself was always splendidly dressed. The whole outfit presented a beautiful picture.
Yet, in the midst of such splendour, she had never been really happy. Whenever I saw her she was either ailing or complaining about something, or finding fault, not only with me. No doubt she enjoyed the beautiful setting, but I never overcame the feeling that it was like a gilded cage, in which everything was luxurious and expensive, but kindness was lacking. I thought Mikhail Sergeievich was detestable, not only because he obviously disliked me, but because he failed to make her well and happy. Perhaps it was only in front of me and my brother that he was supercilious, sneering and unfriendly. At any rate, after she lost him, she always spoke of him as her "Mishenka", using the affectionate diminutive of Mikhail, and recalling the good times with him. But to me, of course, it seems natural to refer to him by his patronymic, the normal Russian form of address for anyone, of any rank. And he was very Russian, even like the Tsar, Nicholas II, in appearance; slight, of medium height, and a similar beard. His mother was English, and he spoke English perfectly, as well as other languages, like all well educated Russians. His father was a retired General, and in the fashion of millionaire Russian absentee landowners, lived near Nice in the South of France, with stewards managing the estates. His mother's name was Serena, and she came of a titled family, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. She was the daughter of a diplomat serving in the British Embassy at St. Petersburg, some time about 1870. Her silver and damasks marked with her monogram "S.P.", and a coronet suited mother. On taking up residence in France, the General adopted the "de" prefix to his name, which mother adopted too.
Mikhail Sergeievich was not actively concerned in the administration, or management of the family estates. The stewards did that. He had his regimental duties, his attendance on the Grand Duke as aide-de-camp, but he was not on active service during the war. He was seconded to the censorship and, as already said, he was a member of the " English Club ". Therefore it was only a short time before he was rounded up with all the other members and taken to the "Tchrezvitchaika". Mother went there with food for him for two or three days ,and then she was told he had been taken away. She was never able to find out where. She went to every possible authority to try and discover which prison he was in, whether he had been exiled to Siberia, or what had happened to him. She persisted and persisted in her enquiries, until finally she got to the head of the "Tchrezvitchaika" organisation at Smolny, Mme. Killontay herself, and received the reply I have already quoted — "Surely, citiziness, you cannot think that such as your husband could be allowed to stay alive".
— Notes about Mischa Plaoutine from the memories of his cousin, Eleanor Jauncey:
"Later, in St. Petersburg, Mischa, Aunt Nell’s younger son, who managed their affairs, took us to two operas. . . .Our last entertainment in St. Petersburgh was on the evening of our last day, when Mischa had asked the head of the River Police to take us for a trip. When a fog suddenly spread over the Island, the boat was completely lost and wandered among the islands, until someone recognized a landmark, and we got back to the town with, I am afraid to say, a poor opinion of the River Police."
"Poor Mischa was betrayed by his nasty wife and, instead of fleeing, went in answer to their summons – on the advice of his wife -- to police headquarters. He was never seen or heard of again. He was kind but, I suspect, suffered all his life from being very small indeed, in contrast to his brother and to most of his friends."
— "The Times" 29 Nov 1927, page 5:
RUSSIAN NOBLEMAN'S FATE.
RE M.S. DE PLOUTINE, PRESUMED DECEASED.
(Before the Right Hon. the President.)
This was a motion for leave to depose on oath that Michael Sergeevitch de Plaoutine, a Russian nobleman, who disappeared during the Russian revolution, had died on or since September 4, 1918. Mr. W.S. Tearle, in making the application on behalf of the attorney to the presumed widow of the testator, said that it was intended to ask for a grant of letters of administration with a will annexed. The testator was born in 1872, and was a first-grade officer in the Russian Horse Artillery. The widow, who was a British subject by birth, was living with her husband on September 1, 1918, at his house in Petrograd, when he was arrested by the Bolshevists and thrown into prison, together with officers, nobles, and Civil servants. The evidence pointing to his fate was that a commissary entered the cell in which he was confined with other prisoners and called out de Plaoutine's name. They went out, and the testator had not been heard of since.
Subsequently the widow became a Red Cross nurse to try to find out if her husband were alive, but her search proved vain. She saw Mme. Stassova, of the Cheka at Petrograd, and asked to be sent to the same prison as her husband. Early in 1919 this woman official of the Cheka informed her that her husband had been shot, remarking that it was unlikely that he would be left alive.
The President said that there was a small property concerned, which passed by the testator's will to the presumed widow, and he gave leave to swear the death of the testator as from September 4, 1918. Solicitors. — Messrs. Johnson, Weatherall, Sturt, and Hardy.
— "Aberdeen Press and Journal" 29 Nov 1927:
SOVIET REVOLT ECHO
Court Presumes Death of
There was an echo in the Probate Court, London, yesterday of the dramatic events in Russia following the introduction of the Bloshevist regime, when Lord Merrivale had before him an application to presume the death as having occurred on or since September 4, 1918, of Michael Sergevitch de Plaoutine.
Applicants held a power of attorney for the widow, an Englishwoman by birth, who married the presumed deceased, a Russian noble-man. According to the evidence of the widow on affidavit, the presumed deceased was arrested by the Bolshevists on September 1, 1918, and confined in the prison. He had not been heard of since September, 1918.
Her husband said the wife, was an aide-de-camp of the late Tsar of Russia and a noble-man of considerable wealth and social and political standing. After the arrest of her husband she went at great personal risk to the head of the Cheka, who assisted her in her inquiries because she was an Englishwoman.
The application was granted.
— "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966":
De Plaoutine Michael Sergeevitch of Palace Quay 25 Millionaya Petrograd Russia died on or since 4 September 1918 at 67 Petrograd Administration (with Will) (limited) London 9 February to Howard Meredith Harr solicitor the attorney of Selina de Plaoutine-Neame. Effects 275l. 5s. 4d. in England.
Auction 20750 / Lot 83
Patek Philippe, St.Petersburg. An early 20th century 18ct gold keyless wind half hunter pocket watch together with 9ct gold chain.
Case No.225520, Movement No.69764, Made in 1899, Sold 1902.
Jewelled keyless wind movement with lever escapement and bi-metallic balance wheel, enamel dial with black Roman numerals and outer five minute divisions, blued steel double spade hands, subsidiary seconds at 6, polished gold case with blue enamel Roman chapter to the front, Plaoutine family engraving to the back, M de Plaoutine engraved on the cuvette, together with 9ct gold curb link chain stamped with Russian gold marks, case, dial and movement signed. 49mm.
Sold 04 Dec 2013 for £4,750 (US$ 7,778) inc. premium.
This watch was apparently gifted to its owner Mikel de Plaoutine, who was Aide de Compte to Tsar Nicholas II before and up to 1918, when tragically both the Tsar and Plauotine were executed by the Bolsheviks during the revolution. Later, in 1903, the Imperial House of Russia, by the intermediary of Nicholas Novosselsky, Chamberlain to His Majesty the Emperor and Director of Cameral Section of the Imperial Cabinet in St Petersburg asked Patek Philippe to reveal to whom the court had given watches to as gifts. Patek Philippe, claiming to already be inundated with orders, had to decline.
This lot includes the Extract from the Archives which states that the watch was made in 1899 and sold in 1902. Patek have acknowledged to us that the owner's name engraved on the case matches the name in their ledger. This could therefore have been a gift from the Imperial Palace or it could have been purchased directly by Plaoutine.