Christina Onassis (Χριστίνα Ωνάση) was the only daughter of self-made Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis and Athina Livanos. Her maternal grandfather was Stavros Livanos, founder of the Livanos shipping empire.
Christina Onassis was born on December 11, 1950, in New York City. Heiress and businesswoman, she was devoted to working at her father’s headquarters in Monaco, ultimately proving to have a smart business sense. After her brother’s and father’s death, she was running the entire family empire.
Christina and her brother were raised and educated in Greece, France and London. Her parents split after her father’s affair with famed Greek opera singer Maria Callas. He went on to wed famous former first lady Jackie Kennedy, otherwise known as ‘Jackie O’ in 1968. It is reported that Christina however never really warmed to her new stepmother.
While raised with an abundance of wealth, it is also said that Christina grew up without much attention from either of her parents and was often looked after by servants. She was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 30. Onassis also became addicted to prescribed sleeping pills and was reportedly hospitalised for overdosing in the 1970s.
As public interest in her family grew, Christina became increasingly determined to make her own waves. She defied her father, as Aristotle wished for her to wed Peter Goulandris, a young man who also belonged to a Greek shipping clan. Instead, in 1971 she married millionaire American builder Joseph Bolker when she was only 20 years old, with Bolker 27 years her senior. Her father deeply disapproved of the match, cutting off his daughter’s trust fund.
Unfortunately, her success was overshadowed by lingering pain and tumult. She ended up marrying 4 times and within a 29-month period, Onassis lost her entire immediate family.
Her brother, Alexander, died in a plane crash in Athens in 1973. His death devastated the family. Her mother died of a suspected drug overdose in 1974, leaving Onassis her $77 million estate. Following Alexander’s death, her father’s health began to deteriorate, and he died in March 1975.
After losing her father, Christina renounced her U.S. citizenship and donated the American portion of her holdings in her father’s company to the American Hospital of Paris. She also managed to gain control over much of her father’s huge shipping empire and took reins of the organisation, with half of his estate used to establish the Alexander Onassis Foundation.
Over time, Christina tried to find happiness. In 1975 she married Alexander Andreadis, a member of a prominent Greek family, but their union was over the following year.
In 1978 she wed Russian shipping agent Sergei Kauzov, with the couple splitting the following year. Throughout the years, she also struggled with her weight, she had issues with binge eating and cola addiction. There were reports of her abusing amphetamines too.
In 1984, Onassis wed French businessman Thierry Roussel. The following year, the couple welcomed a daughter, Athina, who was born in Paris. Onassis’ marriage soon broke up, however, because of Roussel’s infidelity.
According to many reports, Onassis was considering starting a new life for herself and her daughter in Argentina, visiting friends who lived near Buenos Aires in November of 1988. On November 19, Onassis was found dead in her friend’s home. Though her last moments remain a mystery, her death was attributed to a heart attack brought on by years of drug abuse.
She was just 37 years old.
A private, Greek Orthodox funeral was held for Onassis on 20 November at a chapel on the Onassis-owned island of Skorpios, whereafter she was buried in the Onassis family plot in the Island of Skorpios Cemetery, alongside her father and brother.
Onassis is survived by her daughter, Athina, who was raised with her father, stepmother and three step-siblings in Switzerland and France. Christina willed her fortune, worth an estimated $250 million at the time of her death, to her only child.
Athina later battled her father for control of her inheritance, which has been estimated to be as much as $2.4 billion. Athina gained control of half of the estate on her 18th birthday. Unfortunately, she also split from her husband, a Brazilian horseman known as ‘Doda’ after he was caught cheating by her security team at the couple’s Florida home in June of 2016.