Monday June 28th, 2010

Sergei at the Track

sergeiOver the weekend, the Washington Post ran a profile of 87-year-old Sergei Tolstoy, great-grandson of you-know-who. He’s trying to sell a memoir about time he claims he spent as a spy for the U.S.

As a racing fan, this was my favorite part of the piece:

Not so long ago, he reveled in the luxuries his last name and aristocratic status afforded him. He dined with dignitaries in Washington’s finest restaurants. His taste was so exquisite and his style so extravagant that a cigar company named a Cohiba for him.

Now he says his only income is a $213 monthly check from Social Security. His monthly rent at St. Mary’s Court, where he has resided for 19 years, is $64. After utilities, what’s left he spends at the nearby convenience store on magazines and licorice.

“I’m living like a bohemian,” he jokes with a rascally grin. “I beg, borrow and steal.”

According to people who have known him for more than 30 years, Tolstoy’s money is gone, vanished, lost at the betting windows of the Laurel, Bowie, Timonium and Pimlico racetracks he used to roam six days a week.

“I made my bread and butter at the track,” he says. “Many rich ladies wanted to marry me and become Countess Tolstoy. It is too late now, but I could have been a millionaire.”

(Photo by Bill O’Leary for the Washington Post)