The Business Adventures of Aristotle Onassis

Aristotle Onassis was a famous Greek tycoon who was born in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now, Izmir, Turkey) on January 20 in the year 1906.He was the owner of a large shipping fleet and the founder of Olympic Airways.

Aristotle Onassis
Aristotle Onassis (Credit:

Aristotle was a son of a wealthy couple who lost their fortune due to the Greco-Turkish War and the great fire of Smyrna. He was educated in a private school for the privileged class until he was 16. The family moved to Greece and later, Aristotle travelled to Argentina where he started working as a telephone operator. Determined to go into business himself, he started saving money and tried his best to learn the English language. Soon, he founded a small trading company, importing tobacco from Greece.
When his capital was large enough, he purchased his first ship and relocated to New York City but maintained his office in Argentina and Greece. He continued to buy newer and bigger vessels, all under the Panamanian flags to save on registration cost. This saving allowed him to offer lower prices to his customers which by then included the big oil companies.

In 1953, Aristotle moved to Monaco and cleverly took control of Société des Bains de Mer, a company that owns gambling subsidiaries as well as hotels and yacht clubs. At about the same period, he was engaged in profitable whaling activities off the western coast of South America. In 1956, he founded the Olympic Airways after the Greek Government opened the industry to the private sector. In the next decade, he expanded his business empire to include shares in mineral processing plants and an airline company in Latin America, real estate in Europe, and the 52-story Olympic tower in New York.

Aristotle died in 1975. He married twice and had two children, Alexander and Christina. His second wife was Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of former President John F. Kennedy. His net worth was estimated by various sources at $500 million to $1 billion and was mostly inherited by Christina because Alexander passed away before their father’s death.


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