Modern history

CHAPTER 16
 
 THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO STANDING

Judge Swett’s decision to admit the Russian Nobility Association and Anastasia Kailing-Romanov as intervenors into the Schweitzers’ lawsuit was included in a letter to all parties, which also directed them to meet, confer, and resolve among themselves the questions of how and where the tissue should be tested. If the quantity of tissue was sufficient, he instructed that parallel tests be done by Dr. Gill and Dr. King. Further, the parties were instructed to reach agreement on payment of costs and on how the test results would be disclosed. When they had worked everything out, they were to submit a draft order for him to sign.

Richard Schweitzer and Lindsey Crawford immediately disagreed on the starting point for this process. Schweitzer wanted to begin by meeting and conferring; Crawford, on the other hand, quickly began preparing her own version of a draft order for the judge. Schweitzer wrote repeatedly, pushing for a meeting: “I am willing to come to your offices at your convenience at the earliest possible date, preferably this week, prior to the Christmas holidays,” he wrote on December 20. Crawford replied, “We are in the process of drafting a proposed order which we hope to circulate to all parties within the next few days. I will consult with you regarding scheduling a meeting after I circulate this draft.”

When Crawford’s draft order arrived, Schweitzer was surprised to see that it contained a major shift in his opponents’ argument. Previously, Andrews & Kurth, accepting Dr. Maples’ opinion, had condemned Peter Gill’s laboratory as a place at which DNA evidence had possibly been contaminated and which offered only “second-best scientific testing.” Crawford’s draft proposed the judge direct that the tissue be made available to both Dr. Gill and Dr. King. Nevertheless, Schweitzer was irritated. He disliked what he regarded as Crawford’s arrogant detailing of the scientific procedures to be followed; he disliked her insistence that both King and Gill work without reimbursement (Schweitzer knew that the British Forensic Science Service would not work without a fee); and he insisted that each of the scientists be free to publish their results as soon as they had been obtained.

Schweitzer wrote to the hospital’s attorneys, “These documents are ample proof that we should first meet and confer as directed by the court and not be limited by an attempt by Counsellor Crawford to control the agenda by ‘drafts’ or otherwise.” The day after Christmas, Schweitzer, increasingly angry, returned to his fax machine and informed the hospital’s lawyers that “Counsellor Crawford has disdained our requests to meet as instructed and has elected to prepare and circulate a draft of what she purports to be an ‘order.’ ” Schweitzer added that he now wished to go ahead and meet with the hospital’s attorneys, “with Counsellor Crawford to attend or not as she wishes.”

This got Lindsey Crawford’s attention. She scheduled a conference of all the attorneys involved to discuss a response to Judge Swett’s letter. The time was January 10, 1994; the place, the Charlottesville office of Page Williams, the local lawyer whom Andrews & Kurth had brought into the case. The Schweitzers, learning that bad weather was predicted for the tenth, drove down the night before. On the afternoon of the tenth, as the meeting began, the Schweitzers, Page Williams, and hospital attorney Matthew Murray were there, but Lindsey Crawford, who had called the meeting, was not. The weather was bad; it was impossible for her to drive, Williams explained. The weather, however, did not prevent the appearance of another figure who drove that day from Washington to Charlottesville.

As the attorneys were distributing copies of proposed consent orders to regulate distribution of the tissue, Dr. Willi Korte walked into the room. Schweitzer asked why Korte was present. Williams announced that Korte was there “to represent the Russian Nobility Association.” Schweitzer demanded credentials or evidence of authority, and Korte pulled from his briefcase a document signed that day by Alexis Scherbatow. “I hereby request and authorize Willi Korte to assist the RNA and its lawyers in the litigation,” the document read. “The authority granted herein authorizes Dr. Korte to work with the association’s attorneys in the U.S. in conducting negotiations, reviewing documents, providing advice and otherwise taking any necessary and appropriate steps to advance the interests of the Association in these matters.”

As the litigation progressed, Richard Schweitzer had a growing sense that he was battling multiple opponents, one standing behind another. For months, he had been aware of the presence of Dr. Willi Korte, but until January 10, he had not seen this antagonist in person. Even then, Schweitzer did not know much about him. Julian Nott, a British filmmaker working on a television documentary about Anastasia, learned more. “Korte is deliberately mysterious,” Nott said a few weeks after Schweitzer’s confrontation with him. “He won’t reveal much about himself or who is paying him. He’s German, but he lives near Washington, D.C. He’s a very good researcher. His normal job is working undercover, tracking down stolen works of art. A few years ago, he helped locate the missing Quedlinburg Treasure, valued at $200 million to ‘priceless,’ stolen immediately after the Second World War by a U.S. Army lieutenant and hidden in Texas. In the Romanov case, I’ve bumped into him in Boston at the meeting of forensic scientists when Avdonin delivered his paper, at Harvard looking at the Sokolov documents, and in London.

“He’s been very persuasive with some of these families, particularly the Hessians, and he has roped them in to help him,” Nott continued. “He’s scared them by saying, ‘Look, do you know what’s happening here? Do you realize that Gleb Botkin’s son-in-law, Richard Schweitzer, and James Lovell are about to perpetrate this amazing fraud on you? And here I am. Why don’t you give me a helping hand?’

“My feeling is that Korte is the brains and driving force behind this,” Nott continued. “He’s very determined, and he just won’t compromise. He wants the whole damn thing; he doesn’t want Schweitzer involved at all. But what he’s really doing is simply making this thing the most terrible mess.”

Nott was wrong, however; Willi Korte was not the motive force behind Schweitzer’s opponents. By January, a figure behind Korte had begun to emerge. Maurice Philip Remy was a German television producer from Munich, interested, like Julian Nott, in doing a film on Anastasia. A few weeks later, Nott went to Munich to meet this competitor. “He’s a wealthy man from an aristocratic family and his television company is quite successful,” Nott declared on his return. “And he wants to solve seventy-six years of mystery on one television show. Unfortunately, he’s got more money than decency. He’s going after this, and he’s not going to let go. He confirmed that he’s behind Korte; he talked about Korte as if Korte was something worse than his butler: ‘I sent Korte to do this, I sent him to do that.’ Speaking of the Russian Nobility Association, he was much more careful. ‘I have great influence with them,’ he told me.”

Remy’s position on Anna Anderson was vehemently hostile. “He is not out to be objective,” Nott declared. “He intends to prove that she was an impostor. He is in alliance with the Hessians, to whom, all along, he has presented himself as contemptuous of Anna Anderson.” Remy also made a useful ally of Dr. von Berenberg-Gossler, the former attorney for Mountbatten and the Hessians, who, at eighty-five, still describes Anna Anderson as a “con artist” and a “phony.”

Gradually, it became clear to Nott that Remy’s objective was to gain complete control of the Anna Anderson case. He would block Richard and Marina Schweitzer, obtain the tissue for himself, have it tested, then dominate the release of information. He and his agents fanned out across Europe, not only consulting archives, letters, films, home movies, recordings, interviews, and broadcasts but trying to buy them. “No ordinary television program or station would do that; it’s too expensive,” Nott said. “But Remy’s behind in this race so he wants to stop the Schweitzers and Gill, at least until he can arrange to have everything released simultaneously. The reason given would be that it’s good science; that all the materials should be available to everyone as a public record of scientists at work. The real reason would be commercial advantage. Meanwhile, he’s quietly attempting to tie up the world’s supply. Then he’ll go around to all the networks and stations in Europe and the world and try to presell a film with exclusive rights to the Anna Anderson DNA tests. He’ll tell them he owns Anna Anderson.”

In January 1994, yet another figure appeared in the case. This was Baron Ulrich von Gienanth, an eighty-six-year-old former German diplomat who had become a friend of Anna Anderson after the war and during her Unterlengenhardt years had managed her scanty finances. In a series of five wills written between 1949 and 1957, the claimant had named von Gienanth as one of her four executors. (The others, all dead by 1994, were her friend Prince Frederick of Saxe-Altenburg and her Hamburg lawyers, Kurt Vermehren and Paul Leverkuehn.) On January 21, 1994, in Bad Liebenzell, near Stuttgart, where he lived, Baron von Gienanth signed a declaration that, as the only survivor of the original four, he accepted the function of executor of Anna Anderson’s last will.

Von Gienanth’s declaration, if accepted by the court, would change the entire complexion of the case. Marina Schweitzer’s petition to the court had been based on there being no blood relatives, no heirs, and no executors. Clearly, if he were validated as executor, von Gienanth’s status would supersede Schweitzer’s and, therewith, any role whatsoever for the intervenors, the Russian Nobility Association and Anastasia Kailing-Romanov. Nevertheless, Richard Schweitzer saw a legal opening and determined to exploit it. Learning that von Gienanth wished to proceed with parallel testing of the tissue by Dr. Gill and Dr. King, Schweitzer petitioned the court to name the baron as the claimant’s personal representative in Virginia. Schweitzer knew that if the court agreed, his own nonadversarial suit against the hospital would be dismissed. But, along with this, the participation of Andrews & Kurth and Anastasia Kailing-Romanov would be terminated. Trying to prevent this, Andrews & Kurth filed a motion to block von Gienanth’s declaration from being presented to the court.

At this point, Schweitzer’s opponents either misunderstood his objective or underestimated his legal acumen. On February 22, Schweitzer, Matthew Murray, Lindsey Crawford, and Page Williams appeared before Judge Swett ostensibly so that the judge could set a date for a hearing on the unresolved issues raised in his December 7 letter: how the two sides were going to agree on which laboratories would test the tissue and how they should deal with the publicity attending the results. The judge looked down and said, “Have you all agreed on an order?” Schweitzer said simply, “No.” The judge stared at the lawyers in front of him. Then Murray said, “Your Honor, we really think that the first hearing ought to be over evidence we have received that there is someone [von Gienanth] who meets the requirements of the statute. If this other hearing can be held, anything else would be moot. I’d like to show you this request we have received from the man who purports to be the executor.”

“Has that man filed any pleadings in this case?” the judge asked.

“No,” said Murray.

“Is he a party in this case?”

“No,” said Murray. “But if he is who he claims to be, then the hospital is entitled to have this case dismissed so we can deal directly with this man.”

“Well, Mr. Murray,” said the judge, “what the hospital should do is file a motion to dismiss and attach these new documents as evidence in support. This court can’t rule because we don’t have any motion to dismiss.”

Here, Schweitzer spoke up. “Your Honor, there is a prayer to dismiss. I filed it in response to the last pleading of the Russian Nobility Association.”

The judge looked surprised. “Do you understand that if I dismiss the hospital, you’re in effect dismissing [the legal term is nonsuiting] your own case?” he asked. “Are you aware that you would be pleading a nonsuit?”

“Yes,” said Schweitzer.

“Are you willing to take a nonsuit?”

“Yes,” said Schweitzer.

“Counselor, do you plead nonsuit before this court?”

“Yes.”

“This case is dismissed,” said Judge Swett.

The other side was stunned. “Your Honor, we object to the entry of a dismissal because we are the intervenors,” protested Lindsey Crawford. “We have an interest and a claim on this tissue.”

“Well, if you have a claim or interest in the tissue, you can bring your own lawsuit”—Judge Swett paused—“if you have standing.” When he heard this, Richard Schweitzer, who for months had been arguing the Russian Nobility Association’s lack of standing, wanted to cheer.

As a result of this hearing and the entry of Judge Swett’s dismissal order on March 1, Baron von Gienanth, temporarily at least, was in control of the tissue. He immediately wrote to Martha Jefferson Hospital, asking that it make the tissue available to Dr. Gill so that he could carry out the Schweitzers’ commission. Von Gienanth also wrote to Lindsey Crawford urging an agreement that would make the same tissue available to Dr. King. Given this fact, the subsequent behavior of Andrews & Kurth was strange. Even as the baron was offering to do exactly what Lindsey Crawford had proposed in her draft consent order, she was vigorously attempting to undermine his credentials.

Andrews & Kurth retained counsel in Germany and learned that Anna Anderson’s will had never been probated there because, at the time of her death, she did not live or own property in that country. Further, the will authorized “any two of my executors” to act, and—Crawford subsequently told Page Williams—since only one was still alive, the will “has not and cannot be probated under German law … [and] probably cannot be probated in Virginia.” This led Williams to inform Matthew Murray that, in order for Baron von Gienanth to be appointed, he would “have to appear in person … in order to probate the will and be qualified as executor.” In fact, von Gienanth, elderly and deaf, was unwilling to fly.

In the meantime, attempting to deal with its sudden elimination as intervenors by Richard Schweitzer’s withdrawal of his wife’s case, Andrews & Kurth asked Judge Swett to review, clarify, and modify his nonsuit order; it was at a March 4 hearing on this motion that Mary Claire-King’s affidavit, written on December 7, ultimately was filed. The judge rejected Andrews & Kurth’s request; in effect, he told the firm, this is a nonsuit, you’re out, there’s no cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party claim; that’s it, this lawsuit is over. If Marina Schweitzer wants to terminate this case and cut you out, she has a right to do so.

To Lindsey Crawford and her clients, this raised the possibility that Martha Jefferson Hospital might now feel free to turn the tissue samples over to Baron von Gienanth, who then would turn them over to Dr. Gill. “Your Honor,” asked Crawford, “can we have an injunction or a restraining order against the hospital pending our filing another action against the hospital?”

“If you want an injunction,” said the judge, “file for an injunction.”

At this stage, the Russian Nobility Association’s lawyers, determined to prevent any release of the tissue and frustrated by the sudden ending of the Schweitzer lawsuit, began showering letters on Matthew Murray, telling him what Martha Jefferson Hospital should and should not do. On March 18, nearly three weeks after termination of the Schweitzers’ nonadversarial suit against the hospital, the association filed its own adversarial suit, seeking an injunction against release of the Anastasia Manahan tissue before the court could rule on its challenge to von Gienanth’s credentials. The petition repeated that “it is essential that the tests be of the highest scientific integrity,” with the important modification that the association now sought “parallel testing of the tissue samples at two qualified laboratories” (only one, Dr. King’s laboratory in California, was named). Release of the tissue samples or any part of them at this stage, it said, would cause the association “great and irreparable harm” because “any chance at ensuring the maximum degree of scientific integrity in the mtDNA testing may be lost forever … [and] posterity may never know the true identity of Anna Manahan.”

Unfortunately for the Russian Nobility Association, this document, signed by Lindsey Crawford, contained a grievous error of fact, which ultimately was fatal to her case: “Upon information and belief,” Crawford had written, “there is no qualified personal representative of the estate of Anna Manahan.”

Once again, Richard Schweitzer was ahead of his adversaries. Around March 8, he uncovered an obscure Virginia law dealing with abandoned property. “It related mostly to farmland,” Schweitzer said. “If a farmer died or disappeared and left his farm abandoned, his cattle unfed, and so forth, anybody—it didn’t have to be someone with family connections—who knew about it could go into court and ask that the sheriff be appointed to take charge of the property until whoever was supposed to come and be responsible would do it. Then they changed the law—and this is the part I hadn’t previously realized—because sheriffs were being overwhelmed by managing property, paying insurance, and all that, which they had to do out of the sheriff’s budget. The new law says that anybody can petition the court to appoint not just sheriffs but anybody else resident of the county or town as administrator of an abandoned estate.

“So I talked to my cocounsel and 1953 University of Virginia Law School classmate Ed Deets. Ed agreed to be named, and I told him, ‘I will act as your lawyer so you won’t have any legal expense, and I will put up the bond,’ which was about seventy-five dollars since there was no physical estate. So on March 16, with Judge Swett’s approval, my former cocounsel, Ed Deets, was sworn in as personal representative and administrator of Anastasia Manahan’s estate in Virginia.

“Matt Murray was aware of what I was doing. He was sick of the case, which was costing the hospital all that money, and he said, ‘Hell yes! Go ahead and file it!’ Baron von Gienanth was aware of it, and, as his credentials were going to be challenged, he also approved. Under the law, the administrator is entitled to medical records, including specimens and tissue. Ed promptly submitted a request for the tissue to be sent to Dr. Gill.”

Ed Deets’s appointment provided Matthew Murray with ammunition for a powerful attack on Lindsey Crawford’s request for an injunction. Filing two court documents on March 24, Murray struck hard at the absence of court standing of the Russian Nobility Association, which, he pointed out, had never filed certified copies of its articles of incorporation or a certificate of good standing. He described the New York association as “obviously … a mere genealogical society” which had no connection with “the person of Anna Manahan. Further,” said Murray, the association failed to present any facts or grounds to support its claim that it “would suffer any injury, much less irreparable injury, were any transfer of tissue samples to take place.” Finally, Murray delivered the coup de grâce: On March 16, two days before the filing of the nobility association’s request for an injunction, Ed Deets had been appointed as administrator of Anastasia Manahan’s estate. This made him, not the hospital, responsible for the disposal of the tissue. If you want an injunction, Murray said, sue Ed Deets.

Murray was hopeful that the matter was almost over. “If the judge rules favorably on this, then we’ll never get to the issue of the injunction,” he said about this time. “Before long, the Russian Nobility Association is out the window. Soon Ed Deets will file a document, as I have, saying in effect, ‘Judge, these people have no standing and you have no jurisdiction.’ Then the judge is going to be forced to rule on it. They [the Russian Nobility Association] could appeal, but I doubt they will. If they do, they have to post a bond to prevent us in the meantime giving up the tissue. They’d have to go to the Supreme Court of Virginia and to get the Supreme Court to issue an injunction has a snowball’s chance in hell. The real question now is who they are and what they are doing in Virginia.”

On the afternoon of March 30, 1994, a group of people gathered again in Judge Swett’s courtroom in the colonial red brick Circuit Courthouse in Charlottesville. The attorneys, Matthew Murray for the hospital and Lindsey Crawford and Page Williams for the Russian Nobility Association, sat in front at opposite tables. Alexis Scherbatow of the Russian Nobility Association sat beside his two lawyers. In back, on benches on one side of the room, were Marina and Richard Schweitzer, Ed Deets, Penny Jenkins, the English documentary filmmaker Julian Nott, a local newspaper reporter, Ron Hansen, and me. On the other side sat Dr. Willi Korte and an editor of the scientific journal Nature Genetics, Dr. Adrian Ivinson.

The subject of the hearing was to be the nobility association’s request for an injunction, but Murray immediately asked the judge to rule on his challenge to the association’s standing. Judge Swett decided, however, that Ed Deets’s new role and the fact that Deets had not yet asserted his wishes or filed any papers justified postponing the issue of standing. On that day, said the judge, he would listen only to arguments for and against a temporary injunction.

The significant event of the afternoon was the public display of Andrews & Kurth’s reversal of its position on Peter Gill and parallel testing. The Washington lawyers had no choice. Mary-Claire King’s affidavit, withheld at the time she wrote it but now a part of the court record, had made clear the fallacies in William Maples’ attack on Gill. Now, with Deets in command of the disposition of the tissue, Andrews & Kurth had to face the fact that, in the near future, Peter Gill probably was going to receive and begin to test a piece of Anastasia Manahan. The best Crawford now could hope for was that the tissue not be sent to Gill until, at the same time, it went to King. Therefore, she who had opposed parallel testing became its advocate.

The instrument of this reversed advocacy was Adrian Ivinson, a young Englishman with a doctorate in clinical and molecular human genetics. He appeared as an expert witness on behalf of the Russian Nobility Association. Taking the witness stand, Dr. Ivinson declared that consigning the tissue to parallel testing at two laboratories would be scientifically more significant than testing in only one laboratory.

Judge Swett wanted Ivinson’s opinion of two famous DNA scientists. “I take it you hold Dr. King in the highest esteem as an international scientist,” he said.

“Yes,” said Ivinson.

Then Judge Swett asked whether Ivinson would put Dr. Peter Gill and the Forensic Science Service laboratory on the same level as Dr. King’s laboratory.

“Yes,” said Ivinson.*

At the end of that day, Judge Swett did not grant the temporary injunction the Russian Nobility Association had requested because, during the hearing, Matthew Murray promised voluntarily to have the hospital hold on to the tissue a little longer—for “the next several days or weeks”—until conclusion of the litigation. In the meantime, the judge instructed the association to deal with Ed Deets, the new administrator of Anastasia Manahan’s estate.

Deets immediately focused on the nobility association’s relationship with Mary-Claire King. He asked Page Williams whether the association had a written agreement with King and, if so, what it was. He also asked for a copy of King’s report on the work she had done on the Ekaterinburg remains. Williams wrote back that the Russian Nobility Association had no written agreement with King. Deets tried telephoning Dr. King. At first, his calls went unanswered. Eventually, when they spoke, neither was impressed by the other. Deets said that if she was going to test the tissues, he thought there ought to be a definite time schedule. King, apparently offended by this suggestion, hung up.

The final court hearing on Anastasia Manahan’s tissue took place on May 11, 1994. By then, both Martha Jefferson Hospital (Matthew Murray) and the administrator of Anastasia Manahan’s estate (Ed Deets) had filed papers demanding that the lawsuit of the Russian Nobility Association be dismissed because the court lacked jurisdiction and the association lacked standing. In reply, Lindsey Crawford of Andrews & Kurth argued one last time that the association’s interest in noble lineage and “protecting the history of Imperial Russia” automatically gave it standing.* Despite Crawford’s plea, Judge Swett accepted the arguments of the hospital and Deets and dismissed the case. His court order was entered on May 19, 1994, and gave the Russian Nobility Association and Andrews & Kurth thirty days to file an appeal. If no appeal was filed, the case was over.

Richard Schweitzer waited until the exact day that time ran out on the Russian Nobility Association’s power to appeal Judge Swett’s decision. Then, on June 19, Peter Gill arrived in Charlottesville to collect a sample of Anastasia Manahan’s tissue. He came in secrecy; Schweitzer still feared that Willi Korte or Andrews & Kurth might attempt to intercept Gill or interfere with his access to the tissue. “Gill might be served with a process to prevent his acting,” Schweitzer wrote to Matt Murray, objecting to the hospital’s plan to publicize the visit. “Attempts may be made under obtuse regulations to prevent him taking these [human] materials out of the U.S. He or his specimens may be subjected to physical interference, although I have arranged for an escort to accompany him.”

Gill had lunch that day with the Schweitzers and then went to the hospital to collect the tissue. He was greeted there by Ed Deets, Matthew Murray, Penny Jenkins, and Dr. Hunt Macmillan, director of the hospital pathology laboratory. While the lawyers and nonscientists watched from the back of the room and a documentary film crew recorded everything that happened, the process got under way. Macmillan, Gill, and Betty Eppard, a registered histology technician who actually cut the tissue, appeared wearing sterile masks, gowns, and gloves. The five blocks of paraffin containing the embedded tissue of Anastasia Manahan were produced, and the same procedure was repeated five times: Macmillan handed Gill a tissue block and identified it. Gill sterilized it and handed it to Eppard. Eppard mounted it on a microtome, a machine resembling a bacon slicer, and deftly sliced three to six dark brown pieces, each equal in thickness to two hairs. Gill, using tweezers, gently lifted the sliced tissue and placed it in sterilized vials. Macmillan placed the sterilized vials in tamper-proof, transparent plastic bags and sealed and labeled each bag. After each block, the microtome was wiped with absolute ethanol and its cutting blade was changed. Afterward, at a hastily summoned press conference, Gill warned that “I can’t be sure at the moment how likely it is we’ll get DNA from the samples.” He had no idea, he said, what effect the age of the tissue or the use of the chemical preservative formalin would have had on the DNA. If the DNA extraction process went well, he hoped to have a comparison between Anastasia Manahan’s DNA and the DNA profiles of the Imperial family taken from the Ekaterinburg bones within three to six months.

On June 29, ten days after Peter Gill collected the tissue in Charlottesville, Maurice Remy wrote Richard Schweitzer a remarkable confessional letter. In the letter, in a subsequent press release, and in a mass of other documents which he forwarded to Schweitzer, Remy revealed everything that had happened in his camp before and during the long court battle. His enterprise began, he said, when he met Geli Ryabov in Moscow in 1987 and decided to produce a documentary on the murder of the tsar and his family. In July 1992, he was present at the Ekaterinburg conference on the remains of the Imperial family. There he met Dr. Maples and his team, who told him that the skeletons of Alexis and Anastasia were missing. At that moment, Remy said, he decided to concentrate his efforts on the missing grand duchess and to expand his research to include a DNA test on Anastasia Manahan.

Learning that Anastasia Manahan had been cremated, Remy began searching for a blood or tissue sample she might have left behind. He asked Dr. Willi Korte to investigate Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. Having found that, indeed, a tissue sample existed, Remy next asked Thomas Kline, of Andrews & Kurth, to approach the Manahan family and James Lovell for permission to analyze the tissue. This approach foundered. Meanwhile, on Remy’s behalf, Korte was busy in Germany and Greece, collecting comparative blood samples from Princess Sophie of Hanover and Xenia Sfiris. In this same period, tracing an alternative identity for Anastasia Manahan, Remy located a niece of Franziska Schanzkowska and persuaded her to donate blood.

Remy revealed the reason for William Maples’ attack on Peter Gill. In June 1993, Korte, as Remy’s agent, had signed a contractual letter of agreement with Maples and Lowell Levine. Maples and Levine promised to use Dr. King to do DNA tests on the Romanov and Hessian comparative materials which Korte would supply. They also promised to keep Korte’s work “in strict confidence.”* The only consideration promised by Korte in return was payment of travel expenses, but, the letter said, “all travel will have to be approved in advance by Dr. Korte.” Maples, thereby, became a part of Remy’s team. When, in November 1993, scientific testimony was needed to support the Russian Nobility Association’s petition to intervene in the Charlottesville case, Maples supplied his aggressive, ill-informed affidavit.

Learning that Richard and Marina Schweitzer were filing a court petition seeking access to the Martha Jefferson Hospital tissue on behalf of Dr. Gill, Remy recruited Scherbatow and the Russian Nobility Association. Throughout the two lawsuits which followed, the nominal client of Andrews & Kurth, proclaimed in every court document, was the Russian Nobility Association, although Remy stressed that Prince Scherbatow was not told exactly how he was being used. But the direction of the case and the payment of all legal expenses came from Remy, locally managed by Korte.

Remy also described to Schweitzer his relationship with Dr. King: In the summer of 1993, he said, the Forensic Institute of the University of Munich withdrew from the investigations and, as a replacement, Maples suggested King. An oral agreement with King was struck, supplementing the written agreement between Korte and Maples, and Korte thereafter carried to California the blood samples from Sophie of Hanover and Xenia Sfiris. But, with the Anastasia Manahan tissue still locked in a fierce court battle, Remy had no comparative material from the primary claimant, the woman in whom he was most interested.

In his confession to Schweitzer, Remy attempted to smooth over the court battles of the previous winter. This unpleasantness, Remy told Schweitzer, was the result of misunderstanding, bad advice, and loose organizational discipline. Korte had reported inaccurately what was happening in America, he said, and he blamed himself for not maintaining tighter control. He and Korte, Remy added, had severed their relationship.

When the tissue went to England, seventeen months of legal maneuvering and battling in Charlottesville came to an end. In retrospect, one significant question pertaining to the case remained unanswered. It was the role of Dr. Mary-Claire King. Originally, Dr. King, a famous scientist, deeply involved in research into the causes of breast cancer, agreed at the persuasion of Dr. Maples and Dr. Levine to accept bones and teeth from the Ekaterinburg skeletons and to attempt to establish whether these were the remains of the Imperial family. This report, despite increasingly urgent telephone calls from Maples, was never released. Nevertheless, King accepted a second Romanov assignment, orally agreeing to receive, test, and compare a slice of Anastasia Manahan’s tissue to material from Romanov relatives and descendants brought to her by Korte. Over many months, wearied, perhaps even disgusted, by the seemingly endless squabbling in Charlottesville, King remained unwilling to make any commitment on paper as to how the tests should be performed and how, when, and where the results should be released.

The question arises as to why, busy as she was with critical research into a disease which threatens and takes the lives of millions of women, King agreed to involve herself and her laboratory in Romanov identities in the first place. She did not do it for money; in order to retain absolute control, King refuses to accept money in cases of this kind. If she did it to enhance her reputation or because she was intrigued, why did she not follow through? The fact is that without King’s name and reputation behind them and the prospect that she was available to test the tissue, the Russian Nobility Association and Andrews & Kurth would have found it almost impossible to block the testing arrangements agreed on by Richard Schweitzer, Peter Gill, and Martha Jefferson Hospital. In the end, many people spent many months and many thousands of dollars waiting for Dr. King. She did not deliver.

* Subsequently, Dr. Kevin Davies, the editor of Nature Genetics and Ivinson’s superior, made an even stronger statement: “Gill’s lab is, obviously, the leading lab in this kind of thing in the world.” Davies also explained that Andrews & Kurth had, at Mary-Claire King’s suggestion, solicited his participation as an expert witness. Because he was unavailable that day, Ivinson had traveled to Charlottesville in his stead. Davies was surprised that Andrews & Kurth had not only not paid his colleague the customary expert witness fee but “didn’t even give him lunch.”

* This interest in Russian history failed to sustain Crawford when she wrote in her final memorandum to the court that Anastasia Manahan claimed “that along with her brother Nikolas [sic], she survived the murders in the cellar.” In fact, Anastasia Manahan never said that any other member of the Imperial family survived. And, of course, the brother of Grand Duchess Anastasia was named Alexis.

* Although there was nothing in Maples’ agreement with Korte that prohibited Maples from revealing their professional relationship, the anthropologist was eager to keep it a secret. I first heard of Willi Korte from Dr. Michael Baden in one of my initial interviews for this book. “You ought to talk to Willi Korte,” Baden told me expansively. “He knows everything that’s going on.” When, in January 1994, I asked Maples about Korte, Maples seemed alarmed: “Korte is extremely knowledgeable, but he won’t talk to you. He would be rabid if he knew that Michael had been talking to you. He and the German outfit he works for are extremely secretive.” After the lawsuit was over, when I knew about the agreement with Korte, I asked Maples about it. He denied that an agreement ever existed.

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