Ari Onassis was a business partner but above all a very good friend of mine for many years until his death in 1975. It was great to know him and fantastic to be involved in his odyssey and contributes to build his empire. There are so many things that are said about Ari and by creating this blog I want to reflect the reality about him to make sure his memory is not stained by gossiping people that don't know anything about him. You can also view my website:

Friday, February 10, 2006


Six weeks before her 21st birthday, after years of waiting, months of preparation and days of runaway rumour, Athina Onassis, the reclusive heiress, will finally say "I do" tomorrow when she puts on the fattest Greek wedding of all time. Among those invited to attend the ceremony in the lush tropical gardens of Sao Paolo's Luisa and Oscar Americano charitable foundation will be most of Brazil's elite, its riding set and several of the world's rich and famous.
"Everything is ready," Konstantinos Kotronakis, the couple's best man, told "They are greatly in love, a wonderful pair. It will be a hot summer wedding," said Mr Kotronakis, who still has vivid memories of Athina's grandfather, the "golden Greek" shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
But for all the exquisite stage-management of the big day, the portents are not good. Before Athina or the Olympic medal-winning Alvaro Alfonso de Miranda Neto walk down the aisle, there are signs that the wedding may also be replete with a good deal of the farce and drama that has plagued the Onassis dynasty for decades.
Chief among the potential pitfalls is whether Athina's father, the French boulevardier Thierry Roussel, will actually turn up to give his daughter away. Last night a source close to the family confirmed that neither Roussel nor his Swedish wife, Gaby, who raised Athina with her three-half siblings in Switzerland, had received an invitation. Instead, the couple appeared to have been spurned by the woman once dubbed the "poor little rich girl".
"Only Sandrine, her half-sister, is definitely going. It's not at all sure whether Thierry or Gaby will show up," said the family friend. "Talk is that one of the groom's relatives will give her away." The filial rejection follows Mr Roussel's open disapproval of Athina's marriage to a divorcé 12 years her senior. Shocking her family, the shy teenager dropped out of school after meeting the Brazilian showjumper at Belgium's prestigious Nelson Pessoa riding academy in 2002.
Fearing his oldest offspring is poised to relive the barrage of tragic mistakes that beset her hedonist mother Christina - found dead in a bathtub at the age of 37 in Buenos Aires 17 years ago - Mr Roussel has not hidden his displeasure.
"Athina is the third-generation Onassis woman to marry young, and to an older man," Alexis Mantheakis, the family's former spokesman and a close friend, said in an interview.
"But like all fathers Thierry wants the best for his daughter. He would, for example, have liked her to go to university. It's her life, of course, but Thierry isn't very happy at her being so young and living so far away, and, understandably, that has put strain on the relationship."
Acutely aware of the unhappiness that devoured his late wife, the French former playboy prides himself on having given Athina a normal childhood, ensuring that she went to state-run schools and shared her ponies and mountain bikes with toddlers from a childrens' home. By contrast, Christina had showered her daughter with sumptuous gifts, including her own zoo and a toy Rolls-Royce.
Despite all this, the horse-crazy heiress last year employed lawyers in London to wrest control from Roussel of her immense fortune. The suit, said Mr Mantheakis, had put "immense strain" on their relationship.
Although similar accusations were levelled at him when he became Christina's fourth husband in 1985, Mr Roussel has also voiced fears about the Brazilian's true intentions.
Mr Neto is the father of a six-year-old daughter whom he had with former model Sibele Dorsa, and the Frenchman worries his future son-in-law may influence Athina to adopt the child and so make his daughter an heiress to the incredible Onassis fortune.
Hotels, a fleet of ships, assets in some 217 bank accounts, priceless works of arts and properties in six countries - including the Aegean isle of Skorpios where the Onassis family is buried - are all hers.
Believing the house of Onassis to be cursed - seven people connected to the family have died in often tragic and inexplicable ways - the heiress once declared she wanted nothing more to do with it.
But, in what is seen as a prelude to further wrangles over the fortune, she recently indicated she intends to take over all her inheritance, not least the part invested by her grandfather in a philanthropic foundation named after her late uncle, Alexander. The fund would automatically enable Athina to make millions of pounds worth of charitable donations in Greece.
Yet while under the Brazilian's guidance she has taken steps to reclaim her Greek heritage - renewing her Greek passport, signing up with an Athenian riding school in the hope of representing the country at the Beijing Olympics and deepening her ties with elderly Onassis relatives - there, too, lies trouble. The men who run the organisation have said flatly they will not hand over the reins to somebody who does not speak Greek.
"The Onassis drama is not over yet. This is the first act of a very long play that will I think be very unpredictable," added Mr Mantheakis, author of Athina Onassis: In the Eye of the Storm. "You will see that the wedding is just the beginning of it."

No comments: