|Editorial: Athina Onassis - Publication: Raygun Magazine - Issue: October 2001 |
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The name Onassis has legendary status, long synonymous with impossible wealth and family tragedy. Air to millions, fifteen year old Athina Onassis Roussel, has inherited much more than unimaginable wealth from her heiress mother, Christina Onassis.
Set to inherit an estimated 5 billion dollars by her 18th birthday, the life of Athina Onassis is clouded by the legacy of both her mothers tragic death and the subsequent headline-making battle between her French father, Thierry Roussel, and a group of Greek trustees for control of her share of the Onassis billions.
She was just three years old when her four times-married mother Christina's lifelong battle with depression, weight problems and addiction to prescribed drugs ended mysteriously in a Buenos Aires bathtub.
After the death of her brother Alexander in a plane crash at the age of 25, Christina inherited the Onassis millions on her father's death in 1975.
Her own untimely passing saw her Swiss mansion, her luxurious homes in Paris and London, an enormous art collection, the Greek island of Skorpios and South American interests including vast estates and an airline pass into Athina's tiny hands while the rest
went into trust.
Burdened by the notion of carrying such wealth and the troublesome events shrouding the fortune, Athina is said to be exploring the possibility of giving away the £993million she will inherit when she comes of age on January 29, 2003.
Inspired by the example of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose eponymous foundation has been inundated with requests for financial aid since he announced plans to divert the bulk of his £40 billion fortune into good causes, Athina has instructed her advisers to explore the possibility of founding a similar fund.
"Nothing has been settled and nothing will be until Athina reaches 18 but she has expressed an interest in exploring ways of putting her fortune
Despite being pilloried by the four former cohorts of Aristotle, who were appointed trustees to her fortune until Athina came of age, Roussel has proved a much better father to the girl than he did husband to her mother, on whom he cheated repeatedly and publicly.
As a woman who had greeted the absence of Diet Coke in Greece by having her own supply flown over from America in specially-chartered planes, Christina was almost as good at extravagance as she was at unsuitable marital matches.
"Athina's first pram was a £6,000 miniature Ferrari and her toybox was always full of her mother's cast-off jewellery worth millions," recalls one fellow heiress who was close to Christina. "Thierry was really never trusted by any of Christina's Greek family or friends but, to be fair, he used to be quite serious about making sure Athina wasn't spoiled. I remember the Ferrari, which I think he confiscated - we joked that it was because he was jealous and wanted a full-sized one for himself."
According to friends, Athina cites Sir Paul and Linda McCartney's attitude to child-rearing they educated their children at a local village school and strived to ensure normality in the face of celebrity as a model for her own future and blames money for most of the misery which has blighted her young life. "She has begged Gaby to help her get rid of it," said author Chris Hutchins, whose book, Athina: The Last Onassis, was recently published in America. "This is more than teenage rebellion. She blames the fortune for the unhappiness of her mother in particular."
Written by Craig Stephens
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