Katya Chavchavadze Redpath, a former Russian princess turned commoner

Family heritage would make Katya Chavchavadze a princess in the Republic of Georgia, but she gave up any claims to a royal title with her marriage to John Redpath of St. Paul. Still, the links to royalty are enough to earn her a date at The Museum of Russian Art where she will recount family tales in conjunction with the museum's sparkling and tragic exhibition The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost.

Chavchavadze Redpath will give two talks at TMORA. The first, 7 p.m. Jan 29, is sold out. Tickets are still available for the second,  7 p.m. Jan. 30, $9. (The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls. Diamond Lake Rd. at Hwy 35 W. Call 612-821-9045 or www.tmora.org)

A descendant of the Romanov's Chavchavadze Redpath has a family history that combines fairytale glamor with surreal encounters and "suspense, espionage and kidnapping," according to her sister-in-law Kate Redpath.

Among her tales is one of an 1854 kidnapping of a relative who was snatched by a Muslim warlord and held for ransom in Dagestan. The woman and her children were imprisoned for months with the warlord's harem.

Katya's great grandparent's fled from Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, escaping with enough jewels to enable her grandmother to sell some in order to purchase property on Cape Cod. Her father worked for the American CIA during the Cold War.

And somewhere along the line, Katya met and married St. Paul native John Redpath, a graduate of Cretin High School and the University of Minnesota. Katya and John have two daughters and divide their time between New York City and Vermont where they are launching an organic farm.

The must-see exhibition "The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost," is a touching, dramatic and tragic show featuring memorabilia --letters, paintings, china, photos and clothing -- belonging to the Romanov family whose dynasty began 400 years ago this year, and ended with the Bolshevik revolution of 1917-18. The show runs through March 23.

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