The daughter of a Russian billionaire has been unveiled as the buyer of the Greek island where shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy.
Ekaterina Rybolovleva, daughter of business magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, has bought Skorpios, her father's investment office confirmed today. A company belonging to a trust acting in the interest of Ekaterina Rybolovleva has completed the purchase of a group of companies formerly ultimately owned by Mrs Athina Onassis. Amongst the assets of this group of companies are the islands of Scorpios and Sparti.
The 24-year-old purchased the island in the Ionian Sea, west of Greece, from Onassis' sole surviving heir, granddaughter Athina Onassis Roussel, 28, for a reported £100million.
‘Ekaterina is delighted that the trust has negotiated this purchase,’ a representative of Rybolovlev's family investment office said, confirming she also acquired the neighbouring island of Sparti.
‘She regards the acquisition as a long-term financial investment.’
Miss Rybolovleva's father Dmitry, co-founder of the Russian potash producer Uralkali, has a history of snapping up trophy properties and is the owner of the AS Monaco Football Club.
The island of Skorpios was bought by Onassis in 1962, believed to have cost just 3.5 million drachmas, the equivalent of about £10,000. Six years later it hosted his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of the late President John F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.
After his death Skorpios passed to his daughter Christina, who died of a heart attack aged 37 in 1988, and then to Athina at the age of 21.
Until the early 60s, Skorpios was just a piece of dry land, one of the many beauty spots of the Ionian Sea. Then Aristotle Socrates Onassis bought Skorpios, he was then at the head of an empire: a fleet of supertankers, an airline, interests in a hundred companies, properties in Paris, Athens, Manhattan and Monte Carlo, two children, Alexander and Christina, an ex-wife, Tina, from a large family of owners, a collection of masterpieces, including Maria Callas, the preferred. But this was not enough. Cruise on the Ionian Sea, it anchored near Skorpios, which provides for any attraction a chapel, a barn and an olive press. "Why are we stopping here? "Artemis asked her older sister, who is the journey. "I love this place," he replied simply. He already has an idea in mind, explain Artemis years later: "He had always dreamed that one day, when he became rich after becoming someone, he would accomplish something unique. »
Under Greek mythology each of the gods had their islands, Onassis wanted his. He bought Skorpios 3.5 million drachmas, equivalent to 12 000, a pittance. The island has no point of water or roads. It will take five years to the shipowner to model it according to his dreams. To coax the inhabitants of a neighboring island, refusing him access to fresh water, he convinced Callas to give a recital on the village square. He brought the boat with sand to create beaches, and over 200 species of plants and trees to transform this piece of barren land into a thriving oasis. He wants to eat the products of his land, so he installs a farm with sheep, goats, chickens, and cows who are broadcasts classical music - it's good for milk, it seems .
The stable becomes "the Pink House", the residence of the distinguished guests. He built two villas, a staff building, bungalows on the beach. But Onassis careful not to distort the wild beauty of the island. If his yacht "Christina" is a concentrate of what is not yet known as bling-bling, luxury Skorpios is priceless: the nature, sea, sky and silence. When his daughter complains that the paths are not sufficiently enlightened the night, he throws him: "If you want lights, you just have to go to Broadway. "On the" Christina O ", he organized lavish parties, but Skorpios jet setter wants to live simply, to the Greek. At Easter, a whole lamb is roasted on the beach. When his business permit, Onassis escapes to his kingdom, a seaplane shot. He launched a fashion: all the rich of the world began to dream of the possibility of an island - private, of course.
The Greek Government however, is yet to confirm the legality of the purchase by the Russian oligarch. An investigation is currently underway, as Giannis Mihelakis (New Democracy MP) raised the question in the Greek parliament. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, responding to a question from New Democracy MP Yiannis Michelakis, who claimed that Onassis had left specific instructions in his will about what should happen to the island if his family sold it, said the country’s highest court will get a look at the deal.
The water comes to the Island of Skorpis from a mountain bought by Aristotle Onassis on a nearby island, and that anyone who bought the island was required to buy the mountain also, this is why the bearby Islet of Sparti was included in the sale.
The island hosted many parties during the time of Aristotle Onassis, who is buried there, as is his daughter and his son, Alexander, who died in a plane crash in 1973.
It is also home to three residences, a helicopter landing pad and a boat quay.
Swiss-educated Ms Onassis Roussel is the only surviving descendant of the shipping magnate.
Ms Onassis Roussel was born in France, and is the only child of Christina Onassis and her fourth husband, Thierry Roussel.
Athina visited the island twice after her mother died, once when she was eight and then on November 18–19, 1998 with her father Thierry Roussel and their media adviser and spokesman Alexis Mantheakis in order to hold a memorial service on the tenth anniversary of the death of Athina's mother, Christina Onassis. The memorial service on Skorpios was presided over by Father Apostolis, the local Orthodox priest who had baptised Athina and presided over the funerals of Aristotle Onassis, his son Alexander and Athina's mother Christina Onassis, all buried in the Panagitsa Chapel on Skorpios. Apart from these two visits and a couple more when Athina was a toddler she has spent no time there.
She is married to Brazilian Olympic show jumper, Alvaro de Miranda Neto, and lives in Sao Paulo.
In the past there have been rumours that Giorgio Armani, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and Madonna were interested in buying the tiny island.
For several days already, there have been trucks on Skorpios transporting items from the time when the Greek millionaire lived on the island. According to sources, most of them are old building materials that had remained stored for years. The cleaning operation started in the middle of November last year.
Some of the residents of the region, who have lived with the myth of Onassis for more than half a century now, do not approve of the news of the sale of the island. The future of the 15 members of the maintenance personnel, many of whom are to retire soon, is unclear too. So far, everyone is expecting the end of the complex legal procedures in Cyprus, Brussels, Geneva and Luxembourg and the final passage of the island into the hands of Ekaterina Rybolovleva. "The people expect the island to come back to life again. In Nidri, we were used to receiving rich and famous people and to the continuous sailing of ships and yachts. It will be much better if the new owner decides to invest in Skorpios in this difficult time," said Deputy Mayor of Lefkada, Thassos Gazis.
"We all expect to see what the future of the island will be. We all expect to benefit from this," said Gerasimos Stavrakas, restaurant owner from Nidri, who had once worked at Onassis’ legendary yacht "Christina". He remembers how he had walked with Aristotle along the coastal street in Nidri in the sleepless nights, barefoot as sailors.
"I was talking with Onassis as if we were friends. He was a very special person and he was always friendly. We would like the people from his family to be like before but unfortunately, it is impossible."
|Sold by Athina Onassis Roussel, heir to theGreek shipping tycoon|
Island, off coast of Greece, was bought by Onassis in 1962 for £10,000
|Jackie Onassis and Aristotle Onassis, on Skorpios, Greece in 1968. The island, off the western coast of Greece, was bought by Onassis in 1962|
|Family home: After Aristotle's death Skorpios passed to Onassis' daughter Christina, who died of a heart attack aged 37 in 1988|
|Billion dollar girl: Ekaterina Rybolovleva has bought Skorpios from the Onassis family|