The founder, Aristotle Onassis

Alexander S. Onassis


Aristotle Onassis


Aristotle Onassis, son of Socrates and Penelope, was born in Smyrna in 1906. In 1922 he arrived in Greece as a refugee, and shortly thereafter emigrated to Argentina. In 1932 he bought his first ship, which he named Calliroe after his sister.

In 1946 Aristotle Onassis married the daughter of the shipowner Stavros Livanos, Athina (known as Tina) with whom he had two children: Alexander Socrates Onassis, who was born in New York in 1948, and Christina, born in New York too in 1950. About ten years later, Onassis and Tina Livanos divorced.

Aristotle Onassis, thanks to his genius for business, very rapidly rose to be one of the world's biggest shipping magnates, owning mainly oil tankers. He became a legendary figure, not only in worldwide financial circles but also in the eyes of ordinary people.

In 1956 he acquired the concession to operate an air transport company from the Greek State and founded Olympic Airways. The Company started to operate on the 6th of April 1957, with a standard of service for the passengers, which would be inconceivable nowadays, for cost reasons. Olympic Airways was soon flying to destinations all over the world, and won a name for itself as one of the safest airline companies. At the end of 1974, Onassis rescinded the contract with the Greek State and on the 4th August 1975, after his death, Olympic Airways was transferred to it.

In 1963, Aristotle Onassis bought Scorpios, a small, barren, waterless island in the Ionian Sea, which he transformed into a small earthly paradise by planting thousands of trees and building small guesthouses. It was his custom to spend a few days of his vacation there, in the company of the famous people who were his friends - as a result, Greece became even more widely known.

In 1968 Aristotle Onassis married Jacqueline Bouvier, widow of the assassinated US president J. F. Kennedy. On January 24 1973, his son Alexander Socrates Onassis, then just 25 years old, was killed in an aircrash. His son's sudden and untimely death dealt Onassis a shattering blow, from which he never recovered. He died two years later, on March 15 1975, in Paris. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried by the chapel of the Virgin Mary on Scorpios, beside his son and his sister Artemis. His daughter Christina was likewise buried there, when she died in Argentina on November 19 1988.



Aristotle Onassis, wishing to honour the memory of his son through the establishment of a public benefit foundation, directs in his handwritten will that his fortune should be equally divided between the foundation to be established, which was to bear the name of Alexander S. Onassis, and his daughter Christina on the explicit condition that the two portions would remain independent of each other. Thus, 45% of his fortune went to the Foundation, being the portion that he would have bequeathed to his son Alexander, and the remaining 55% went to his daughter Christina. After Onassis's death the executors of his will, among whom were several of his close colleagues, proceeded to take all the measures necessary to establish the newly-constituted Foundation as a legal entity, named the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.

In implementation of the testator's wishes, the Foundation was established in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, in compliance with whose laws two foundations were established: the Business Foundation, which was to serve purely business purposes, and the Public Benefit Foundation, which was to be for public benefit purposes only. The reason was to keep the business activities of the one separate from the work of the other. The Business Foundation engages in shipping and other business, and its sole beneficiary is the Public Benefit Foundation. In accordance with Onassis's will, the latter spends about 40% of the net annual profits of the Business Foundation, and the remainder is re-invested.

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The Testament


I the undersigned Aristotle Socrates Onassis, wishing to settle my estate after my death, and being of sound mind, am writing the present will in my own hand containing my last wishes and order as follows:  

Article I 

Should my death occur before I establish a public benefit foundation in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, or elsewhere, under the name ALEXANDER S. ONASSIS FOUNDATION, to provide, inter alia, for the establishment, maintenance, and general functioning of and assistance towards medical, educational, literary, religious and in general scientific, exploratory, journalistic, artistic institutions with competitions held internationally or nationally accompanied by monetary prizes as in the case of the Nobel Foundation in Sweden, I hereby direct and order the executors of my Will listed below to establish such a public benefit foundation in Vaduz (Liechtenstein) or elsewhere, with the above-mentioned aims, as well as similar and other such public benefit purposes to be determined at their absolute discretion by a majority among them, and to draw up the articles and statutes of the said foundation in accordance with the law. It is my wish that all the provisions of my present will be executed with regard to the public benefit foundation as if the latter were already established, regardless of whether the said public benefit foundation has in the meantime been established by myself or whether it is established by the executors of my will after my death.

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