Zenni Chrissoveloni moved to the Romanian principalities in 1848 and founded a bank and an exporting company in Galatz, which later expanded in Braila and Bucharest. These businesses flourished later under the leadership of Nicolas Z. Chrissoveloni, Zenni’s son, when the family started investing in real estate industry and agriculture. In 1879 he bought from Dimitrie Mavrocordat, Ghidigeni and Corăşti areas, where he built a school that still exists today, a church, a villa and he developed the actual cognac distillery from the area.
After the WWI, the family business was taken over by Jean and Dumitru, Nicolas’ sons. Jean turned the cognac distillery into a modern alcohol production factory, while his friendships in high society helped him in increasing the business. His villa in Ghidigeni, for instance, often hosted guests such as Queen Mary or King Ferdinand.
During the First World War, the villa was converted into a hospital where Jean’s wife, Sybille, and Queen Mary worked as volunteers. Jean Chrissoveloni founded and led the military transport regiment “Queen Mary”. Under his leadership, the business has spread across Europe, with offices open in Paris, London, Athens and New York at the same time with new aquisitions of land in Romania, Greece and Macedonia. In the same period, the office building on Lipscani street, was built with the help of the architect G. M. Cantacuzino.
Jean Chrissoveloni died in 1926, at 46. His son, Nicky, retuned to Romania from Oxford in 1931, at the age of 22 and joined the board of directors. In 1936 he became the chairman of the board, managing the bank together with Dimitrie Ghica. The Chrissoveloni family desperately struggled to avoid going bankrupt, thus Nicky Chrissoveloni put his own fortune on the line.
He paid his bank customers withdrawal requests with cash from his own fortune and covered 95 percents of customer complaints. In 1934, a year after the economic crisis, although weakened substantially, the bank has been declared viable by the National Bank of Romania.
Under Nicky Chrissoveloni’s management, the bank regained its reputation and its leading position in the Romanian banking system. The institution was so strong, that on 3rd of June 1948, the reported profit for the previous year reached two billion lei.
Eight days later, the communists nationalized the bank and Nicky Chrissoveloni was arrested shortly after.
In 1960 he and his family emigrated to Greece. He died far away from his home country, being buried on Glyvada island, near to Athens.
The story of Constantin Colibășeanu – senator in the National Liberal Party.
He was a „kulak” – in Jean Chrissoveloni’s words. He was born in Colibași commune (Mehedinți county) and became – through his wife, the daughter of Laptev General – the landowner of Văleni domain in 1879.
Constantin Colibășeanu originated from a well-to-do family. A civil engineer by profession, he studied Agronomy in France. These were his great two passions: to build and to work the land. He owned Văleni domain after marrying Ecaterina Laptev, the daughter of General Laptev, a family of great aristocracy which were said to be older than the Tsars of Russia and which came to Romania along with Kiseleff.
Hélène Chrissoveloni, was the eldest daughter of Nicolas Chrissoveloni, a wealthy Greek banker and his wife Callirhoé Economou. She was born February 5, 1879, in Galatz, Moldovia, and eventually married Prince Dimitri Soutzo on June 3, 1903, in Bucharest.
Soutzo, descended from a Greek Phanariote family, was a Romanian military attache in the diplomatic corps, and before too long the marriage quickly became an unhappy one.
Hélène married Prince Dimitrie Şuţu, a marriage proving that marriages between an intellectual such as Ellen and a man who is always active, such as Dimitrie is doomed to failure, their relation claiming a divorce. Afterwards she married Paul Morand, member of the French Academy. They both came to Bucharest in 1942 and were accused of being pro-Nazi. They were exiled to Switzerland, where they became friends with Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Proust.
The story of Sybille YOUELL – Manu Chrissoveloni – the English girl born in Galatz, about which the Queen said: “There’s no one wearing their finery more perfectly than her”. She transformed the palace from Ghidigeni, in which she lived, in a hospital, nursing countless injured, thus showing and proving her love and commitment to Romania. Fairy English woman born in Galatz.
However, Sybille Youell is considered the most beautiful woman in history Galatz, noted also for the beauty of her soul; she is the best friend of Queen Mary and the wife of the famous banker Jean Chrissoveloni from Galatz. “Sybille Youell was born in 1879 in Galatz, being the second daughter of Edward Youell and Mary Watson. Youell was a famous English merchant established on the lands of Galatz, who held in association with his father-in-law, a large warehouse in the port of Galati. They lived on Bârlad street and, when miss Sybille was crossing the street, passers-by used to stop to admire her fascinating beauty.
The writings of those times describe her as a fairy, with ” a bright and smiling face, with a hair like the sunshine and brown eyes, says Marius Mitrof adviser to the County Department of Culture, a great passionate of the history of Galatz, who provided us the necessary information and illustrations for this article. On October 11, 1907 she married Jean Chrissoveloni from Galatz, who, in 1920, was to establish the famous Chrissoveloni Bank in Bucharest, an institution of international renown.
After the wedding, Sybille moved together with her husband in the monumental Palace from Ghidigeni (Ghidigeni current territory of Galatz county). At the stately residence, the couple was often visited by the Royal Highnesses, Princess Mary and Prince Carol (as Sybille was among the best friends of the Princess).
The story of the safe-deposit box from the room on the ground floor of the building on Negustori (Merchants) Street 1B – the safe from the library in the house binds, by coincidence, Jean Chrissoveloni’s parents even before their birth.
“The safe was distributed by the Youell & Watson company, and Youell was my father’s grandfather. Thus, my mother’s grandfather bought a safe from my father’s grandfather, “says Jean Chrissoveloni.
Founded by his grandfather, Nicolas Z. Chrissoveloni, originating from the Greek island of Chios, and strengthened by his father, Nicholas (Nicky) Z., the Chrissoveloni Bank was, up until 1933 – when the stock market declined on Wall Street – one of the most powerful financial institutions in Romania. Today, the headquarters of the bank situated on Lipscani street, built by the famous architect G. M. Cantacuzino, is the headquarters of the National Bank of Romania, the building being recognized as an architectural gem. Chrissoveloni’s family history is linked to the Royal House of Romania, Jean Chrissoveloni, Ion Nicolae’s grandfather, being the founder of the “Queen Mary” military transport regiment and having a close friendship with the wife of king Carol I.
The members of the family were strongly anchored in the cultural circles of the time, and Ion Nicolae Chrissoveloni’s aunt was friend with Charlie Chaplin, with whom she was often attending receptions and parties in Switzerland, where the famous actor lived at his hoary age.