Biography of Aristóteles Sócrates Onassis (1906-1975)

Shipowner and Greek businessman born in Izmir (Turkey) on January 15, 1906 and died in Neuilly-sur-Seine (France) in 1975. Son of a wealthy tobacco merchant, lived with his family in the city of Smyrna (now Izmir), until in 1922 nationalist forces of Kemal Atarturk captured the city and rejected the Greeks who had managed it since the end of the first world war, which forced the Onassis family to flee to completely ruined Athens. From there, the family departed for Buenos Aires (Argentina), where he began to slowly recover his fortune. The young Onassis founded a company of import of tobacco that won more than $100,000 in just two years. The boats that brought the tobacco needed a return cargo, and Onassis was dedicated to exporting hides, grain and wool to Europe. This company helped him as experience for what would be their big business: maritime transport.

He was then appointed Greek consul in Buenos Aires and, when he was twenty-five years old, already had gotten his first million dollars.

The years of the great American depression - late twenty and early thirty-were his big chance. He bought six ships to a Canadian company to price of scrap between the many boats from around the world who stood in the ports. As soon as the situation normalized, boats began to transport goods, and in a short time were amortized and producing benefits.

In 1936 he built his first tanker and, before the start of the second world war, two more had emerged from its own shipyards.

It was then when devised the perfect method to finance the construction of their ships. He convinced financial firms that conduct "charter" contracts with international oil companies long term was as secure as having money in the Bank. I got the contracts offering unbeatable prices and then used these as collateral to obtain loans that would allow it to build tankers.

In the second world war, German bombs destroyed much of its fleet, but the insurance companies paid for them so much more than what it cost. This earned him the nickname of "The Golden Greek", with which, since then, would be known.

When there was increased its oil fleet by buying surplus American tanks of WWII, Onassis began to build whaling. It chartered the "Challenger" and did not respect the jurisdictional waters of Peru and Chile, so it was driven out of them. On this contingency insurance provided him with more money than he would have gotten fishing whales. He repeated the operation in waters of Norway, and again got fabulous compensation.

In 1953 took control of la Société des Bains de Mer, in Monte Carlo, who controlled the Casino, the Opera, five hotels, a ballet company, a beach and a large number of houses and lots in the Principality. In 1966 he lost this control in lawsuit against Prince Rainier of Monaco and sold most of its interest in Monte Carlo.

Got the exploitation for twenty years from the Greek "Olympic Airways" aviation company, in 1954, year in which the Greek authorities nationalised this.

Its fleet of ships came to be greater than that of many countries, with more than 50 tankers and freighters 12. Just on maritime transport, annual earnings were estimated at more than 3.5 billion pesetas. Their financial holdings have always been domiciled in tax havens.

Aristóteles Onassis was married in 1945 to Tina Livanos, daughter of an important Greek shipowner. She had two sons, Alejandro - who died on January 23, 1973 in aviation accident - and Cristina - died in Buenos Aires on November 19, 1988. The marriage lasted 15 years, after which Tina got divorce accusing Onassis of mental cruelty. With the soprano María Callas maintained a long relationship and, in 1967, an Italian magazine published the news of their wedding, subsequently denied. In 1968 it surprised everyone with a new marriage, this time with Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of us President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On March 15, 1975 Aristóteles Onassis died in the American Hospital in the French capital, because of bronchopulmonary infection.