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Onassis’ golden girl finally comes of age

Athens, Jan. 28 (Reuters): Athina, granddaughter of late Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, becomes one of the world’s richest people when she turns 18 tomorrow and inherits part of the family’s multi-billion dollar fortune.

Athina, the last direct descendant of Onassis, will get an estimated $2.7 billion in properties, companies, shares, artwork and a private jet. The fortune will make her richer than Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

“The golden girl is coming of age tomorrow and will inherit mythical amounts of money, stocks, properties and islands,” the respected Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia said today.

The vast wealth amassed by Onassis during his rags-to-riches life includes cash deposits in 217 banks and the lush Ionian island of Skorpios.

It is passed down to Athina from her mother Christina, who died in 1988.

Athina is set to become even richer on her 21st birthday when she takes control of the Onassis Foundation and another $2 billion. But she will also inherit the family’s tortured history.

Athina’s mother died in a bathtub in Buenos Aires in 1988 after allegedly taking a lethal dose of diet pills, when Athina was aged three.

Christina had reeled from one failed marriage to another, four in total, while fighting eating disorders, drug abuse and depression.

She divorced her last husband and Athina’s father Thierry Roussel in 1987 after a three-year marriage. Since her mother’s death, Athina has lived in Switzerland with the French-born Roussel and his Swedish wife. She has a half-brother Erik born a few months after her to the couple.

Christina’s brother Alexander, groomed to take over the family empire, died aged 25, in a freak plane crash in 1973.

Her larger-than-life father Aristotle, who in 1969 ended a nine-year affair with opera diva Maria Callas to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the assassinated US President, was crushed by his son’s death and died two years later.

Two years ago, Roussel lost a legal fight against the Athens-based Onassis Foundation, which partly manages Athina’s fortune.

The court actions between Roussel, and the foundation’s so-called greybeards — trusted associates of Aristotle — included allegations of embezzlement, mismanagement, defamation and even kidnapping.

Roussel alleged that the foundation’s lifetime board members had paid Israeli secret agents to kill him and abduct Athina. Athina has never spoken about any of these issues and has been kept mainly sheltered from the public eye.

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