The Russian Imperial House Versus the Social Media Influencer Pretending to be a Romanoff

by Seth B. Leonard

The Imperial House of Russia is currently engaged in a legal battle in Italy to prevent a social media influencer from using the Romanoff surname for commercial gain, among other concerns. Grand Duke George of Russia, the heir to the Headship of the Imperial House, is the plaintiff; Mr. Alberto Maccan (also known as “Carlo Alberto Maccan Romanoff”), a social media influencer, is the defendant. 
The Italian Social Media Influencer
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H.I.H. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia, Heir to the Head of the Imperial House.
Photograph courtesy of the Chancellery of the Grand Duke.

Alberto Maccan was born on 17 December 1993 at Portobuffolè, Italy. He descends from an Italian industrialist family. Alberto Maccan is the son of Stefano Giovanni Maccan, a Managing Director of Friul Intagli Industries S.P.A., and is the grandson of Inaco Maccan, President of Friul Intagli Industries S.P.A. Friul Intagli Industries S.P.A. is an Italian multinational company founded in 1968 by Inaco Maccan. According to Bloomberg, “Friul Intagli Industries S.P.A. manufactures wooden products. The Company provides furniture sink, room furniture, desks, tables, and other furniture products. Friul Intagli Industries serves customers internationally.” Headquartered in Pordenone, Friul Intagli Industries had an annual revenue of $656.72 million (USD) and employed 1,537 individuals in 2018 per Dun & Bradstreet.

Raised in Italy, Alberto Maccan moved to London, where he reportedly studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and then business at Regents University.

Maccan’s Usurpation of the Surname of the Russian Imperial Family and Its Relatives

Mr. Maccan has pursued a career path as a social media influencer. Alberto’s Instagram page has 178,000 followers, and his public Facebook page has nearly 5,600 likes. In the past several years, Alberto Maccan became using the name “Carlo Alberto Maccan Romanoff.” He gives his surname as “Maccan Romanoff” on his social media profiles as well as on his personal website. There, Mr. Maccan’s heavily-falsified biography reads as follows:

Carlo Alberto Maccan Romanoff 

Influencer -Traveller -Socialite and Television personality 

Born and raised in Venice, Italy [Author’s note: Mr. Maccan was not born in Venice; he was born at Portobuffolè.], at the age of 18 Carlo Alberto decided to move to London where he graduated, first in Architecture at the Architectural Association and Cass University a then, at the age of 23, he completed a masters degree in International Business and Finance at Regent University. 

With a passion for traveling, luxury and fashion, Carlo Alberto has proven to be able to represent the ideal of many high fashion brands as well as hotels and travel networks. 

Carlo Alberto’s Instagram profile boasts 200,000 followers – he has become a travel and fashion influencer in his own right; attracting the attention of fashion icons, fashion houses and luxury hotels around the globe.

He made his TV debut in an Italian documentary, and is set to star in a new Italian TV show about influencers. His Style and look has been noticed by many different international brands such as Tony Ward Couture, Dolce and Gabbana, G. Inglese, La Perla and many more. Carlo Alberto has been Brand Ambassador of La Perla, Dior Beauty, Ralph Lauren fragrances, G inglese and many more.

Carlo Alberto is often invited to fashion shows in London, Milan, Paris and New York as well as important social events like Amfar, Ferrari, Vogue, GQ just to mention a few, where he was also featured as one of the strongest looks for the Milan Fashion Week 2017 and 2018.

The False Maccan Claim to Imperial Romanov Descent 

Screenshot from “La Tormentata Succession al Trono di Russia” post on L’Associazione legittimista Trono e Altare.
In March 2012, the website of an organisation called l’Associazione legittimista Trono e Altare (The Legitimist Throne and Altar Organisation) created a blog post entitled “LA TORMENTATA SUCCESSIONE AL TRONO DI RUSSIA” (“The Tormented Succession to the Throne of Russia). Within this post about the Russian Imperial House, incorrect information was given pertaining to the Nikolaevich branch of the imperial family, which descends from Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1831-1891) and his wife Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna (1838-1900; née Duchess of Oldenburg). The webpage falsely included the following persons as descendants of the Imperial House of Russia and members of the Romanov family: “Prince Inaco Maccanovič Romanov (born in 1950) of the Marchesi Maccan in Italy, son of the Prince Primo Maccanovič Romanov; Prince Stefano Giovanni Maccanovič Romanov (born in 1971; son of Inaco); Prince Alberto Maccan(ovič Romanov) (born in 1993; son of Stefano Giovanni); and Prince Alexander Maccanovič Romanov (born in 1977; son of Inaco).” To be clear, there is no branch of the Romanov family, whether dynastic or morganatic, who bears or ever has borne the surname Maccanovič Romanov. Furthermore, there were never any descendants of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich and Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna of Russia who married into a family by the name of “Maccanovič” or “Maccan.” Finally, the Maccan family does not belong to the Italian nobility; this can be easily verified by checking the Elenco Ufficiale della Nobilità Italiana, the Libro d’Oro della Nobilità Italiana, and the Annuario della Nobilità Italiana. The claims of Mr. Maccan to descend from the Romanoff family are totally false as are his claims to descend from an Italian noble family. The Italian police are currently investigating all of the aforementioned incorrect information shown on the website of l’Associazione legittimista Trono e Altare, as it a felony to disclose and disseminate false information to the public.
The Response of the Imperial House of Russia
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As is well known, the Imperial House of Russia consists of only two persons: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia and His Imperial Highness Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia. Born in 1953, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the Head of the Imperial House of Russia. The grand duchess was the only child of the late Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia (1917-1992; Head of the Imperial House from 1938-1992) and his wife Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna (1914-2010; née Princess Bagration-Moukhransky). Born in 1981, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich is the only child of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia and her former husband Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich (b.1943; né Prince of Prussia).

Statement from the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia (9 June 2020)
Statement from the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House (9 June 2020)

On 9 June 2020 in Moscow, the Director of the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, Dr. Alexander N. Zakatov, issued a statement to clarify the activities of Mr. Maccan and the inappropriate usage of the Romanov surname. The statement reads as follows:

In response to the large number of inquiries from Russian citizens and foreign friends of Russia regarding the activities and statements by the Italian designer [Author’s note: Mr. Maccan is not a designer; he is a social media influencer.] Carlo Alberto Maccan claiming the right to use the surname Romanov and the historical titles of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov, the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia wishes to make it known that: 

1) Mr. Carlo Alberto Maccan, who calls himself “Maccan-Romanoff,” and who uses the title “His Imperial Highness Prince Carlo Alberto Maccanovic Romanov-Holstein-Gottorp,” is in fact not a descendant of the Romanov family.

No female members of the Imperial House of Romanov ever married anyone from the Maccan or “Maccanovich” family. Nor did any Romanov descendants—legitimate or illegitimate—ever marry into the Maccan (or “Maccanovich”) family.

Therefore, Mr. Carlo Albert Maccan does not have the right to use the surname Romanov under Russian imperial law nor the historical titles associated with it, and, moreover, his use of the name and titles infringes the rights of the actual members of this historical Russian family—both the members of the Imperial House of Russia and their relatives who descend from morganatic marriages.

2) The improper use of the surname Romanov (Romanoff) and related titles violates the norms of Russian imperial law and is misleading.

3) At the present time, the Imperial House of Russia consists of only two persons: the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and heir, His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke George of Russia.

These sole members of the Imperial House use the surname and titles by right of inheritance, in accordance with the dynastic house law of Emperor Paul I, issued on 5/18 April 1797.

Their dynastic status and titles have been recognized by the government of the Russian Federation and other countries, and by the Russian Orthodox Church and other religious denominations. They have also been repeatedly confirmed in academic publications written by prominent scholars in the fields of history and genealogy.

4) The Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, which is a registered non-profit organization in the Russian Federation and which represents the Imperial House of Russia in its relations with government agencies, the Orthodox Church and other religious groups, and with public and civil organizations, has the duty to inform the public of any people who use the name and titles of the Imperial House without right, including Mr. Maccan, and to defend always and vigorously the honour, dignity, and good name of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov.

Alexander N. Zakatov
Director of the Chancellery

Dr. Alexander Nikolaevich Zakatov has served as the Director of the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House since 2003. 

The Reaction of the Russian Nobility Assembly
Statement from the Russian Nobility Assembly (10 June 2020)

On 10 June 2020, the Russian Nobility Assembly, which is based in Moscow, released a statement on the “Clarification regarding claims by false pretenders of the Russian Imperial House of Romanoff.” The communiqué reads as follows:

To Whom it may concern, 

The Council of The Russian Nobility Assembly, on behalf of its members, would like to clarify that the only current members of The Russian Imperial Family of Romanoff are T.I.Hs The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and The Grand Duke George of Russia. 

With displeasure, it is being noted that a certain “Mr Alberto” is pretending to be part of the Romanoff Imperial Family and this baseless and unproven allegation is being publicised on Social media, printed media and radio/tv broadcasts. Such fraudulent claims by “Mr Alberto” are without doubt, made to gain public respect and popularity but can create confusion and is undoubtedly disrespectful to the real members of the Imperial Family and to the outstanding history of the Romanoff dynasty moreover, it damages the good standing reputation of our Assembly. 

Without prejudice, these false claims made by the above mentioned individual and the media houses that are promoting them are being considered fraudulent in nature and possibly a criminal offence and/or in breach of copyright law since the Romanoff dynasty is a “tradename” which traditionally and legally belongs to the real family members of the said Imperial family. 

The Russian Nobility Assembly is legally registered and has worldwide over 18,000 members, who recognise only T.I.Hs The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and The Grand Duke George of Russia as the sole members of the Imperial Family of Romanoff. This recognition is internationally acknowledged and endorsed by several governmental institutions and Royal Houses. T.I.Hs effect official trips to foreign countries as well as take part to Government events and public ceremonies in virtue of the fact that they represent the history of Russia and the world.  

Whilst hoping that the proper authorities will intervene in this matter and “Mr Alberto” will desist from these false allegations, please do not hesitate from contacting the undersigned should you require further clarifications. 

Oleg V. Scherbachev
Marshal of the Russian Nobility Assembly 
Alexander Yu. Korolev-Pereleshin
First Vice-Marshal of the Russian Nobility Assembly
Executive Secretary of the Council of The Russia’s United Nobility

The Russian Nobility Assembly is a corporate public organisation bringing together individuals belonging to the Russian Nobility and registered with the Russian Ministry of Justice. The objective of the Assembly is to contribute to the restoration of Russia as a great power, to the formation of social consciousness based on traditional spiritual values, to the promotion of civic principles and high morality. The Assembly unites more than seventy regional branches and offices, including fifty provincial Assemblies on the territory of the present-day Russian Federation, plus regional Nobility Assemblies established in the areas that historically belonged to the Russian Empire and other foreign countries. Oleg V. Sherbachev is the Marshal of the Assembly since 2014.

The Repudiation of Maccan’s Claims by the Russian Genealogical Federation

On 13 January 2020, Dr. Stanislav Vladimirovich Dumin, the President of the Russian Genealogical Federation, issued a statement on the situation concerning Mr. Maccan and his improper and potentially illegal use of the Romanoff surname and coat of arms.

The manufactured coat of arms improperly used by Mr. Alberto Maccan.

The full text of the statement from the Russian Genealogical Federation appears below:

Concerning the Claims of Carlo Alberto Maccan to the Surname Romanoff and Related Historical Titles 

In response to the claims by the Italian designer [Author’s note: Mr. Maccan is not a designer, but a social media influencer.] Carlo Alberto Maccan, who has been using the surname “Maccan-Romanoff” and the title “His Imperial Highness Prince Carlo Alberto Maccanovic Romanov-Holstein-Gottorp,” and who has claimed to be a descendant of the Romanov dynasty (the Imperial House of Russia), I wish to make the following known: 

Carlo Alberto Maccan has frequently stated publicly that he descends from the House of Romanoff through the female line, and that his director ancestor, Maccan (or Maccanovich) had married a Romanoff grand duchess. He has repeated his claims on the Internet and in interviews on television, some of which have been posted online. Carlo Alberto Maccan links himself to the family tree of the Romanoffs through a daughter of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (the son of Emperor Nicholas I) who supposedly married his ancestor, Maccan. This grand duchess never existed. 

These claims have been depicted in the so-called “unified arms of the Maccan-Romanoff family,” which displays a dimidiated shield with the Imperial double-headed eagle on the left side – usurping for his own use the heraldic heritage of the Russian Imperial dynasty. A different coat of arms that has been used by Carlo Alberto Maccan, and which was prepared by a Russian heraldic artist, also usurps Romanoff heraldic symbols. This second coat of arms replaces the double-headed eagle with the impaled familial coat of arms of the Romanoff family – a black border with lion heads around the Romanov red griffin. 

The genealogy of the Romanoffs has been thoroughly studied, and its full membership, including newly born infants, were up until 1917 annually published in many official reference books and directories of the Russian Empire and in European genealogical registers, such as, for example, the Almanach de Gotha. Romanoff genealogical data have been reproduced in many modern Russian and foreign genealogical reference books. One can therefore affirm with absolute certainty that no female member of the House of Romanoff ever married someone from the Maccan family. Nor, furthermore, did even any illegitimate offspring of the Romanoffs ever marry into the Maccan family.
The descriptive inventories and archival collections of the Department of Heraldry of the Governing Senate definitely establish that no noble family by the name of Maccanov (Makkanov), Maccanovich (Makkanovich) or Macanovich (Makanovich) ever existed in the Russian Empire before 1917. 

Therefore, Mr. Carlo Alberto Maccan is using a historical surname and titles to which he has not the slighted right, and is thereby violating the rights of the genuine members of this historical Russian family: both members of the Russian Imperial House itself, and Romanoff relatives who descend from non-dynastic marriages. 

Stanislav V. Dumin
President of the Russian Genealogical Federation,
Academician and General Secretary of the International Genealogical Academy (Académie Internationale de Généalogie), and
Corresponding Member of the Italian Institute of Heraldry and Genealogy (socio corripondente dell’Instituto Araldico Genealogico Italiano)

Dr. Stanislav Vladimirovich Dumin is a Russian historian, genealogist, and social activist. He is the President of the Russian Genealogical Federation. The Russian Genealogical Federation is a governmental institution that reports directly to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

The Heir to the Imperial House of Russia Seeks to Uphold His Family’s Heritage
H.I.H. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia

After studying at Oxford, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia began his career at the European Parliament, where he went on to work in the Cabinet of the Vice President of the European Commission, Loyola de Palacio. The grand duke then worked in Euroatom in Luxembourg before he joined the Russian company Norilsk Nickel, where he was appointed Director for Norilsk Nickel Europe Ltd. before becoming C.E.O.  of N.N. Metal Trade Overseas. After departing this position, Grand Duke George of Russia founded his own lobby and communications company, Romanoff and Partners, in Brussels. Its aim is to develop and strengthen ties between the European Union and Russia. In 2013, on the 400th anniversary of the accession of the House of Romanov, Grand Duke George established the Russian Imperial Foundation, which is a charitable organisation dedicated to medical research, ecological problems, and fundraising to solve emergency issues.

The Legal Issues at Stake in this Case

Screenshot from Mr. Maccan’s Instagram exhibiting a paid promotion he received from Polo Ralph Lauren. 
Screenshot from Mr. Maccan’s Instagram exhibiting a paid promotion he received from Palazzina Grassi.

Mr. Maccan has utilised the Romanoff surname in his capacity as a model for several well-known international brands, such as Polo Ralph Lauren. A paid partnership on Instagram occurs when an influencer or brand advocate shares a post or story on the platform and tags in a business account as a Business Partner. This sort of activity, such as employed by Mr. Maccan, can result in increased attention to his social media accounts by followers of brands with whom he has partnered. By using the Romanoff surname, Mr. Maccan has purposefully misled his nearly 180 thousand followers as well as other individuals into believing that he is a member of the Russian imperial family engaged in certain corporate activities. This is deliberate misrepresentation on his part, as he has no connection with the Russian Imperial House or the extended Romanoff family whatsoever.

Screenshot from Mr. Maccan’s Instagram account showing his attendance at a Russian debutantes’ ball in London under the guise of being a Romanoff.
Mr. Maccan appears on Enjoy! hosted by Peter Gomez, during which time Mr. Maccan spoke about his “royal” lifestyle.

On several occasions, Mr. Maccan has attended events where he has presented himself as a Romanoff. One such instance of this was his presence at the Third Russian Debutante Ball at London in November 2015. Mr. Maccan has made numerous appearances in the print media and on television where he has paraded himself as the only Romanoff currently living. An example of this was when Italian TV host Peter Gomez allowed Mr. Maccan to come on Gomez’s show, Enjoy!, so that Mr. Maccan could speak about his “imperial” title and his “jet-set” lifestyle. Mr. Maccan also made an appearance on Romanian television channel Antena 1, where he presented his false claims. The behaviour of Alberto Maccan has been harmful to the reputation of the members of the Imperial House of Russia and the morganatic members of the extended Romanoff family, in that it seeks to tarnish the character of their ancestors as well as to belittle the current activities of the Imperial House.

H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, Head of the Imperial House, and H.I.H. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, the Heir.
Photograph courtesy of the Chancellery of the Imperial House. 

Mr. Maccan’s decision to adopt the Romanoff surname, and to, in certain instances, imply that he bears a Russian imperial and/or noble title based on a non-existent descent from the Russian Imperial family, could cause harm to the charitable endeavours of actual members of the Romanoff family, whether these be dynastic members of the Imperial House or family members who descend from morganatic marriages. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich are the sole members of the Russian Imperial House. In their positions, the grand duchess and grand duke carry out official duties and engagements within Russia in addition to supporting charitable organisations and endeavours both in Russia and abroad. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is recognised as the Head of the Russian Imperial House by the Russian government and by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The legal complaint against Alberto Maccan has been lodged with the prosecutor’s office at Treviso, where Mr. Maccan is domiciled. “Several times in the past, lawyers for the Russian imperial family have asked Mr. Maccan to remove the surname Romanoff from the websites he uses to promote himself,” explains lawyer Alessandro Verga Ruffoni, who represents Grand Duke George Mikhailovich in this matter.


Note: I wish to thank the Chancellery of H.I.H. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia for their kind assistance during my research for this article. 

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