Monday, April 15, 2013

Skorpios: Onassis' Greek Island Paradise Going, Going, Gone... for a Song!

What a shameκρίμα
A mere 100 odd Million dollars marks the end of the Onassis Era for Skorpios… 

Dear Athina,

That’s it then.

Farewell to your own private island in the Ionian Sea.

Skorpios, the private island bequeathed to you by your Mum Christina who inherited it from her Dad, Aristotle Onassis, has been sold/leased to a wealthy Russian Oligarch, Dimitri Rybolovlev, for his 23 year old daughter Ekaterina, who plans to make the most of it, already referring to it as a financial and business centre!

What a shame

That you didn’t recognize or perhaps appreciate the value of your island paradise and what marvellous things could be done with it!

Every so often we heard that that you had sold that symbol of extreme wealth –your Grandfather’s legendary island - to one or other of the world’s privileged - eg Bill Gates or Madonna - Millionaires or Billionaires, it doesn’t matter - but it always stopped at rumour status… until now. We wrote about it the last time too, in August 2009, and wished you well if that’s what you really wanted...

But, like most Greeks in Greece and around the world, we're sad... and puzzled.

You never really seemed to take to your Greek side very well…

We don’t know why you appeared to reject all that was Greek and didn’t appear to want to visit this beautiful little island.

 Statue of Aristotle Onassis at Nidri Port,

Maybe it is the fact that your Grandfather is buried on it along with his two children - your Mum, Christina and the Uncle you never met, Alexander -  and all this brings back too much sadness, sadness which maybe you had too much of as a young child growing up without your mother. 

Then again, this may not be true. Maybe we read too many wicked stepmother fairytales! Maybe you actually enjoyed your life growing up in as normal a way as possible and as part of a large family with the added bonus of bodyguards… maybe that’s what has made you want to sever connections with anything that’s Greek…and forget about the Greek part of your heritage, a heritage that appeared to be too hard for you to cope with, a heritage you didn’t seem to want, except briefly when you were talking about holding The Athina Onassis Equestrian Competition in Athens, when your beloved was considering wearing Greek colours for the Olympics, although we did read on your website that you are still riding for Greece Athina then switched her national affiliation from France to Greece, effective for all of her equestrian competitions’ .

Most of our Global Greeks around the world have gone to a great deal of trouble, personal and financial , under very difficult conditions and without many resources, to make sure that their children grow up within their Greek heritage, their history, traditions, language and, above all, a love for Greece.

Millions of people, come to visit Greece each year, inspired by her history and culture and attracted by her natural beauty. Many non-Greeks have made Greece their home, bringing up their children there and following an essentially Greek way of life. They’re not Greek by descent but they are Greek by choice.

Yet you, the only Onassis left, have effectively severed relations with your Greek heritage, with Greece, with the Onassis Foundation, apparently unwilling to take any step towards reconciliation by learning Greek, quickly auctioned off your Mother’s jewels, the houses in Greece and now the last link, Skorpios, is gone too. 

You virtually gave it away…

What a shame

It puzzles us that you, the only grandchild and descendant of one of THE most famous Greeks – a man who made his stature as a sharp businessman synonymous with his Greek identity - seem to be denying that heritage… for what? For money?  Mere money?

Money is just money and it doesn’t last. It is simply a tool that can help make daily living easier… when you have a lot, it really doesn’t mean much to get another few million to add to the stockpile.

You’ve given Skorpios away for a song. What’s 100 million dollars these days? Not much for an island, let alone an island like Skorpios with status and history!

Why?  It’s perplexing for us non-billionaire-heirs-and-or-heiresses because one doesn’t have to ‘feel’ particularly Greek to enjoy the benefits an inheritance like yours gives you – the fortune your Grandfather made and which allows you to live a life of luxury - whether you want it or not.

Isn’t it strange that the world’s titled and moneyed are looking for the added prestige owning their own Greek island will give them, yet you, apparently, couldn’t wait to get rid of it? 

The Emir of Qatar bought a couple of islands of his own in the Ionian for his family vacations just a few weeks ago, and now the Russian Rybolovlev has ‘bought’ yours, handing over something more than 100 million dollars for a piece of the Onassis myth - the Onassis myth which lives on long after its main protagonists have left this world, and remains forever synonymous with wealth, power and glory intertwined as it was with stories of the world's rich and powerful, from Hollywood stars and celebrities to royalty and politicians. 

It is a real shame  that you didn’t decide to do something yourself with your fabled island paradise in the Ionian. This mythical island which hosted so many celebrities and legends in their own right, was also home to two famous women, Maria Callas and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and the final resting place of the Onassis family members.

Since you didn’t want to go there why not open it up and share it with the rest of the world?

You could have opened the main house up as a Museum – The Onassis Family Memorial Museum, thus ensuring its existence as an ongoing and living tribute to its founder, your Grandfather, Aristotle Onassis.  This would have been the real tribute to your Grandfather and your Onassis family, on the island paradise he created and where he is buried.

There are so many who would love to be able to visit, to see this beautiful island, to capture a bit of history, a piece of the glorious past, to see up close the legend that was the Onassis retreat… recreating the atmosphere, the glamour and the joy of the time when your grandfather was alive and bringing back that ultimate Greek’s love of life! 

What a shame…

If you didn’t want to do it, why not sell the island to the Onassis Foundation and let its Trustees do it.  Although they haven’t done too badly at keeping the Onassis name and spirit alive and above all Greek, your Grandfather’s arch rival’s family via their Stavros Niarchos Foundation is doing a lot better to be honest! The Stavros Niarchos Foundation have committed the same amount you received for Skorpios, around 100 million dollars, to benefit and assist those who are suffering in Greece right now, supporting their founder’s homeland in its time of need. Bravo to them all!

We hope we will be able to say the same to you one day. Maybe, you too plan to donate some of the proceeds of this deal, to the people in Greece who are suffering right now. We certainly hope so.

Most of us felt sad today as we watched the movers loading up what remained of the Onassis personal effects as they left for an unknown destination to make way for the new owners…it is always sad to witness the end of an era, and that’s exactly what this is. 

For Skorpios and all it symbolises, it is the end of an era

The Onassis legend and the Onassis legacy remain and will do so forever but Skorpios is now in the hands of Ekaterina and Dimitri Rybolovlev who we hope will breathe new life into the island and the entire area.

For you, the last Onassis, a clean cut, a clean break, a clean slate that you can now draw on as much as your heart desires.

We sincerely hope it brings you the happiness you are looking for.

Enjoy it. 

If and when you do decide to claim back your Greek heritage, and we hope for your sake that that day comes soon, Greece will always be there for you...

PS Onassis international Prizes - Where Are they Today?

While we are talking about what a shame it is how these situations have developed, it would be interesting to find out what happened to the Onassis International Prizes which Onassis had intended to be the Greek equivalent of the Nobel Prizes? 

From Simone Veil to Herbert von Karajan and Elizabeth Taylor to Manolis Andronikos, the Laureate list from 1980 to 1993, the last year that they were awarded, is impressive to say the least.

 Dame Elizabeth Taylor
1988 Onassis International Prize for services in the fight against AIDS
Press Conference, Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens 
The stunning jewellery worn by an equally stunning Liz in these photos comes from the famous Lalaounis collections which Liz adored.

To read about Onassis on Wikipedia Click here

To read about the Alexander Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Click here

To read about Athina Onassis on the ADSport Horses Site, Click here

To read Athina Onassis: In the Eye of a Storm by Alexis Mantheakis, former Roussel family spokesman click here

At Global Greek World, We ♥ Greece...and it shows!

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