Skorpios – The Island of Onassis
In 1963, Aristotle Onassis bought the Ionian island of Skorpios, located just off the western coast of Lefkada, and transformed it into his summer residence. When first purchased, the island did not even have running water. But Onassis, known for his business acumen, attention to the smallest detail and desire for the greatest of quality, turned Skorpios into an unbelievable private oasis.
When purchased, the island was fairly barren. Utilities were piped in, forests planted, and Onassis even used his yacht the “Christina” to bring in sand from another Greek island for the beaches. Within a short time, he had built his family compound, a farmhouse, helicopter pad and boat quay on the island for which he had reportedly paid a mere 3.5 million drachames (an amount that today would equal not even $20,000).
The island is now a lush green oasis of fruit, nut and olive trees, all of which were brought in by Onassis. A small Greek Orthodox chapel was built as well, and it was here that in 1968, Onassis held his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy. Jacqueline introduced wild blueberry bushes to the island she loved to call home.
When he died tragically in 1973, Alexander, Onassis’s son, was buried near the island chapel. Upon their deaths, Onassis and his daughter Christina were buried alongside Alexander. They are remembered and mourned by the villagers of Nydri, located just a few miles away on Lefkada. The people fondly remember when Onassis spent his days on the island, stopping by often in Nydri. Not far from the statue of Willhelm Dorpfeld, stands the statue of Aristotle Onassis. Appropriate, as both men were dreamers, legends, and contributors to Greek legacy.
In 2013, the last heir of Onassis, his granddaughter Athina Onassis Roussel, sold the island, hers by inheritance, to Russian heiress Ekaterina Rybolovleva.
Onassis’s life and endeavors, including his time on Skorpios, has been well documented. We recommend the book “Aristotle Onassis, Beyond His Myth” published by the Foundation that bears his name, as well as the more personal account of his story as reflected in the autobiography of Paul J. Ioannidis in “Destiny Prevails”.