CULTURE

Have hard times come too soon for heiress Athina Roussel?

All the press, Greek and foreign, were keen to see what would happen when Christina Onassis’s only child Athina Roussel – as she signs her name, avoiding the name Onassis, because «she hates everything Greek,» as she told a Swiss court, «even though I know that my fortune is from my grandfather and mother, who were Greek.» On January 29, 2003 Athina turned 18 and as Helbi wrote in this column, which the International Herald Tribune then published under the title «Poof! An Heiress Vanishes,» Athina and her father Thierry Roussel disappeared. Their houses in Geneva and Paris were closed up, because of the dark-haired heiress’s love for Brazilian equestrian Alvaro Alfonoson DeMiranan Neto, known as Doda, whom Athina had met in Brussels when she was taking riding lessons. Athina gave up her studies in Geneva, settled in Brussels and followed Doda to his professional engagements. On that decisive birthday, the 2.7-billion-dollar legacy from her mother Christina and grandmother Tina-Athina, nee Livanou, was still tied up by the Swiss authorities who deemed Athina too young for so much money and had instituted a delay of five years. That’s old history. The news is that, one way or another, by signing over to her father, part of the fortune was realized and Athina received an allowance which did not keep pace with the young couple’s lifestyle. Remember the $320,000 she gave Doda for his birthday? That was followed by a farm with matching thoroughbred horses, and multiple international trips. Needing money at one point, she telephoned her father’s secretary asking for money from «my fortune,» only to get the reply: «What fortune?» We don’t know what was meant by that. The fact is that Athina was forced to cut off small allowances that Aristotle Onassis used to give the wives of his cousins Aris and Giorgos Onassis, and which Christina had kept up, as did Athina. Olga Onassis went to the Hotel Grande Bretagne to ask Athina why she had stopped sending the annual sum of $9,000 when the heiress spent 24 hours there during a mysterious trip, but she did not manage to see her. The Onassis Foundation has probably paid the allowance out of good will, honoring to the last the wishes of its founder. Athina also stopped paying the social insurance (IKA) of Giorgis Tzaferos, which Aristotle and Christina had kept up when he stopped working for Onassis. Tzaferos had jumped into the sea at Skorpios to save Alexander when the latter was a child; the boat’s propeller slashed his face. He still bears the scars. Why tell all this? If the heiress to a fortune of $2.7 billion cuts off small allowances to relatives and people who have offered services to her mother’s family, it means she doesn’t have the financial ease she would if that fortune were in her own hands. And it is too soon for Athina to experience hard times.