Aristotle Onassis was a famous Greek shipping magnate and one of the richest men in the world. Confident, whimsical and irreverent, Onassis was a master at seizing opportunities. Aristotelis Sokratis Onassis , was born to a Greek family on January 15th, 1906 , in Izmir, in today's Turkey. At age seventeen he emigrated to Argentina to escape Greek persecution from Turkish nationalists. He left home with just $60 in his pocket. His ingenious mind and willingness to work were to be his salvation. He was working in the Oriental tobacco trade, manufacturing his own illegal brand of cigarettes, when he was hired by a phone company. He eavesdropped on calls between prominent businessmen and was able to learn their secrets for success, using them in his own investments.
In addition to acquiring wealth, women were his real passion. As he once said: "If women did not exist, all the money in the world would be meaningless ." There were many women in his life. The first was Athina Livanos, the beautiful daughter of a powerful family of Greek shipping tycoons . When the marriage ended he fell in love with Maria Callas, eventually leaving her for President Kennedy 's widow Jacqueline . After four years of courtship , the two were married in 1968, but the marriage had its share of problems. Aristotle Onassis’ finances were rapidly rising by the age of 22, when he became Consul General of Greece. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Onassis bought cheap merchant ships. By the time the market recovered, he had made his fortune.
In 1939, World War II broke out, and Onassis sold his ships to the Allied Forces at a high price . Forward-thinking and risk-taking, Onassis invested a great deal of money in a fleet of oil tankers, which became among the most impressive in the world. His life’s philosophy was to never rest after achieving success. He said, "We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will exist forever. We must learn to navigate the wind. " No sooner said than done. He founded an airline called "Olympic Airways ". His power became immeasurable. His investments in the Principality of Monaco , made him a more powerful leader than even Monaco’s Prince Rainier . After the Prince’s marriage to actress Grace Kelly, the U.S. began to heavily invest in Monaco. Onassis’s stranglehold on Monaco’s economy was detected and the tycoon was ousted from the Principality. According to gossip, this campaign to rid Monaco of Onassis was actually orchestrated by Princess Grace who frowned upon the unwed Onassis and Maria Callas living together.
At sixty-nine years old, Onassis’s many years of hard living had seen his health deteriorate. He died on March 15th, 1975 from respiratory complications. Before he died he wrote an extensive Last Will and Testament, seeing to it that his empire would thrive after he passed away. Onassis's legacy is now largely controlled by his granddaughter Athina Roussel, the daughter of Christina Onassis and Thierry Roussel.