Aristotle Onassis (20/01/1906 - 15/03/1975)

Aristotle Onassis Aristotle Onassis was a prominent Greek-Argentinian ship-owner.

He was born in Smyrna in 1906 and had one sister, Artemis, and two half-sisters, Kalliroe and Merope, as his father remarried after his first wife’s death. As his father was a successful shipping entrepreneur, Aristotle received excellent education, attending school at the Evangelical Greek School. After the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922, all property of the Onassis family was lost and they fled to Greece along with numerous other refugees.

In 1923, Onassis went to Buenos Aires in Argentina, where he got his first job; at the same time, he started importing tobacco from Turkey and making his own cigarettes. Soon, he managed to amass a substantial amount of money, increasing his power and influence, partly due to other illegitimate activities, such as sabotaging competitors and using the name of a famous cigarette company. In 1925, he received the Greek and the Argentinian citizenship. In 1929, the Greek government decided to impose an excessive tax on imports from countries with no trade agreement, which was the case with Argentina. However, Onassis used his influence, his connections and his money to be exempt from the tax.

He met Athina Livanos and they married in 1946; they had two children, Alexander and Christina. Later, he started an affair with Maria Callas, which effectively ended his marriage after his wife found out. In 1950, he started a whaling business off the coast of Peru, and although it was profitable, it ended after accusations by sailors were published on a newspaper, saying that they indiscriminately killed any animal, be it young or adult, that was in close range of the ships. The whaling business was sold to one of the biggest Japanese companies in the field. In 1956, he bought the right to exploit the Greek Air Transportations from the government and founded Olympic Airways, the national carrier of Greece, which soon started flying to destinations all over the world. Meanwhile, he signed contracts with big oil companies for his fleet, because his ships sailed tax-free under Panamanian flags, thus at much lower cost than other fleets. As a result, Onassis could offer bargain deals and still make substantial profits.

In 1963, he bought Skorpios, a small and barren island on the Ionian Sea. He planted numerous trees and plants, turning it into a small paradise on Earth, where he retreated with his friends. After meeting Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of J.F. Kennedy, Onassis ended his relationship with Callas to marry her. They married in 1968, on Skorpios.

In 1973, his son Alexander died on a plane crash, plunging Onassis in grief. He passed away two years later at the American Hospital of Neuilly, near Paris, due to respiratory failure, a complication of myasthenia gravis, which he suffered from. He was buried in Skorpios, near the graves of his son and his sister Artemis. When his daughter, Christina, died in 1988, she was also buried at the same location.

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