HRH Prince Michel de Yugoslavie
Iconic Cover Feature of Bilioniare Chronicle Monaco Edition 2018
By Mariett Ramm
MONACO. The Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Genoa, and the Grimaldis all consented to the progression of the sovereign principality in unique ways over the centuries. Moreover, some are assuredly convinced that the divine hero, Hercules, indeed left his golden footprint, which subsequently resulted in the independence and the integration of the second smallest country in the world into the European Union.
Monaco is home to many across the Globe. Not only is Monaco a symbol of glamour, wealth, and exquisite lifestyle, but it also has a warm and friendly vibe that is experienced and understood by its residents, who spend every day of their lives supporting the Monegasque community.
During one of the events this year, the Billionaire Chronicle had the honour of meeting His Royal Highness, Prince Michel de Yugoslavie, at one of the most prestigious global family office events conducted under the high patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II Monaco in Monte Carlo.
Little did we know how much we would discover from His Highness, Prince Michel, about the royal history of Yugoslavia that shaped centuries of the European Royal landscape. HRH Prince Michel is the Prince of Yugoslavia by being the patrilineal descendant of Alexander Karađorđević, and he carries over two centuries of revolution and disruption in his genes from the House of Karađorđević. His Highness is the Prince of Serbia, an investment executive, socialite, philanthropist, an ardent photographer, and a fine art devotee with a financial background. Similarly, he acts as an intermediary between prominent family offices on a day to day basis.
“I have been residing in Monaco for two years now. I used to come here every year, and I liked it. I then thought that I should try living here. Living here is amazing because there is a group of people who organize activities for the welfare and amusement of the people of Monaco non-stop. Apart from the regular annual yacht shows, Grand Prix and tennis, there are always other smaller events every day, which make life very pleasant. Living here is like living in a village as everyone knows everybody, and people are amicable. The administration is very efficient; Monaco wants people to come here and enjoy themselves, and they make it very easy for people to set up corporations and businesses. The government is extremely well organized, and of course, we have lovely weather, which helps, with a sea right at the shores of the country. There’s a lot of light and brightness, which for me, is very important as I am a passionate photographer.”
Yugoslavian history during the Second World Word. Exile of H.R.H. Prince Michel of Yugoslavia’s Family after WWII.
Prince Michel said “We are part of the royal family of Yugoslavia. I came from Serbia, and my family started the Revolution against the Turks in the 19th century.”
After World War I, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia merged with the Kingdom of Serbia that consisted of the former territories of Austro- Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Montenegro. Prince Michel’s parents met on a cruise entailing European royal family guests and organized by the queen of Greece. Prince Alexander, father of Prince Michel, was a member of the Karađorđević Dynasty, the Yugoslavian Royal Family, which dates back to the 19th century with seven generations to this date. The mother of Prince Michel was Princess Maria Pia of Savoy. She was the eldest daughter of Umberto II of Italy, and of course, the House of Savoy goes back to the year 1000.
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, grandfather of Prince Michel was the cousin of King Alexander, who got assassinated in 1934 in Marseille during an official visit. On the day of the assassination, Prince Paul, being the first cousin to the King, became Regent during the minority of the successor King Peter II, son of King Alexander.
There were three Regents, one Royal Regent, Prince Paul, the grandfather of Prince Michel, and two other civilian Regents. These three regents ruled the country from 1934 to 1941 during the tough times of World War II. Germany wanted Yugoslavia to be part of their Alliance. Eventually, Yugoslavia was conquered by Axis forces in 1941, and Yugoslav military figures with British support forcibly removed Paul from power and declared Peter II of age. Prince Paul spent the rest of the war under house arrest in Kenya. After World War II, the family could not return back to Yugoslavia.
Prince Michel was born in France and grew up there. “I did not know much about either Yugoslavian culture or my Heritage. My grandfather lived in Paris, and we saw him every weekend. He was truly traumatized by his loss of power and being exiled. He did not even want us to learn the language. He said he did not want people to think we were Communist spies. The Secret Service of Tito killed a lot of Serbs. Maybe, by me not knowing Serbia and speaking the language, I avoided the atrocities.”- said Prince Michel.
Only after the overthrowing of Milosevic in October 2000 did the new democratic government reinstate the legacy of the royal family, which allowed them to return to Yugoslavia. Prince Paul was finally granted a state funeral in 2012 in Belgrade, Serbia. It was very emotional especially since he had been resting in Lausanne since 1976, which was the year in which he passed away. The family reclaimed the authentic Yugoslavian nationality, and they recovered all their rights. “I have very mixed feelings about this. I am partly grateful to have survived, and yes, I have missed a lot. However, I can now catch up. I have been to Belgrade about ten times since our family’s title was reinstated, and I’m delighted when I visit there. I did not meet any Serbians while in Paris. Needless to say, since 2000, I have been discovering about significant Serbian communities everywhere including the South of France.”- Prince Michel.
Growing up In France. Relocation to USA.
HRH Prince Michel attended business school in France. Completing his studies in three countries and three languages was also an obligation. So, he also studied in Frankfurt and London. At boarding schools, he enjoyed doing many sports, which is something that he still enjoys today.
HRH Prince Michel briefly lived in Latin America and Mexico, and after a short vacation in the States in Florida, he decided to stay there for 12 years.
During his years in the US, Prince Michel went into real estate at Palm Beach, Florida working for Sotheby’s International Realty. Then he moved to New York where he entered the field of finance.
Fine Arts. An Alternative to Traditional Investment Assets.
As a fine arts enthusiast, Prince Michel loves going to museums, art shows, galleries, and art fairs. During his 12 years in the States, he attended the Miami Art Fair on a regular basis, where he built relationships with exhibitors and collectors. “Over the years, I have noticed that there are certain trends in fine arts investing. In the beginning, people buy something just because they like collecting and owning certain pieces from individual artists. Now, purchasing an idea is what makes a piece of art a good investment. Ten years ago, people did not think like that. People are also more careful about how they buy their art and from whom they buy.”- said Prince Michel.
Some collectors may go to the top 10 galleries in Art Fairs, and only buy from those galleries solely because they are the galleries that move the market and represent the best artists. There are also new businesses now that evaluate a collection according to its artist. Buying new art is about rebalancing the collection. It is the same process as one would do with other kinds of investment portfolios. For example, if a collector has three canvases from Monet, one good one, and two that are questionable, the two should be sold.
Art investment is becoming more professional, and thus there is more paperwork involved. For instance, buying a 15th-century painting is a very complicated process. Most likely, the art contains no authenticity certificate and no paperwork showing avenues of sales by auction houses or art fairs. “Sellers and buyers must then rely on complicated investigation measures carried out by experts. Buying contemporary art is slightly more comfortable though it still involves much paperwork.”- Prince Michel.
Supporting Family Offices
While working in Miami and New York, HRH Prince Michel formed bountiful connections with many family offices due to his responsibilities. “All my activities led to family offices somehow, and when I was involved with a financial company, all our clients were Europeans, and one-third of our clients worked for a family office.”-said Prince Michel.
His Highness recently attended The 6th Global Family Office Summit in Monaco organized by Anthony Ritossa. “I am often asked to participate at family office events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Monaco. I view these opportunities as a source of entertainment as well as an educational tool. During this summit, I appreciated topics on government activities, maintenance, and distribution of family wealth, wealth protection and transfer to the next generation. I admired this effort.
High Highness told Billionaire Chronicle, “Family offices can be examples to the world. Governments talk about sustainability, but they don’t do much; while family offices actively work on preserving that wealth. I think they can show the world how to do it. My suggestion to family offices would be to collaborate and network with each other. They must keep up with innovations and trends when it comes to investing. At the same time, they must be cautious with what they opt for and with whom.”
Personal Thoughts and Photography
Prince Michel admits to having a keen eye for photography. “I remember as a child, we lived in Versailles, just outside of Paris. My mother used to take us for a walk in the park of Versailles Castle. Versailles is perfect for perspectives for geometry, architecture, and construction. I have probably been training my eyes to see shapes, volume, and geometry from a very young age. This realistic and graphic vision is apparent in my photos.”
His Highness also affirms his appreciation for brightness, colours, humour, and big spaces.” I always keep my eyes open.” He has completed a whole photo series in Serbia, which was exhibited at the Serbian embassy in Switzerland. He has also shown his masterpieces in Paris and Geneva. Currently, he is preparing for another grand exhibition in Serbia. “I am an ambassador for showing the beauty of this fantastic country, and I am always delighted to hear comments from people who are inspired to learn more about Yugoslavia and want to visit this fascinating land.”
The Future Of Yugoslavia.
Many people may still have the impression that Yugoslavia stems from Tito. However, Tito took Yugoslavia from Karađorđević Family, from the real royal family of Yugoslavia. ” We have to portray our history as it happened in reality. Being a member of the royal family, I have a defined role to play. Over the centuries, many people died for our family, and I feel we have a moral obligation to remember those people who supported our family. Yes, a Royal may do as he pleases, but his actions have to be for the good of everyone.”
HRH Prince Michel is on the board of directors of Visionary Alternatives, Inc., a charity that discovers and funds aggressive alternative medical therapies for critically ill patients. He also organized a Charity-dinner to support the “Make a WISH” project of the Serbian Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Monte Carlo in 2015 to help terminally and severely ill children.