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“Aristotle Onassis, beyond his myth” > exhibition in Athens October 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Athens exhibition explores life and myth of world’s most famous Greek

It was a mark of Aristotle Onassis’ fame that dinner guests on his opulent yacht “Christina” included Winston Churchill and Tito, John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier, later to become Onassis’ second wife, Rudolph Nureyev, Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Taylor.
 
The shipping tycoon’s lavish lifestyle and business acumen made him the most famous Greek of the 20th century and a new exhibition in Athens sets out to reconstruct Onassis’ life through a series of personal effects.
 
These include a love-letter from opera diva Maria Callas, luxury collectibles and the self-made tycoon’s trademark horn-rimmed sunglasses.
 
“We wanted to advance beyond the myth, to show the real Onassis,” Anthony Papadimitriou, president of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation that organized the exhibition, said on Tuesday.
 
Onassis was born in 1906 to a wealthy Greek family in Smyrna, Izmir in Turkey, that lost everything after the Greeks were evicted from Turkey in 1922. He emigrated to Argentina and launched his shipping business. After moving to New York, Onassis enlarged his business empire and branched out into air transport by founding Olympic Airways. He died in Paris in 1975.
 
“We, at the foundation knew the real Onassis,” Papadimitriou said. “He was a terrific businessman but also a cultured, charming man who left his mark on an era.”
 
The foundation, named after Onassis’ only son, who died in a 1973 plane crash, has provided many of the 300 objects and 500 photographs displayed at the new branch of the Benaki Museum in Pireos street.
 
Several of the exhibits are linked with Callas, a fellow Greek with whom Onassis had a long-running relationship in the 1960s.
 
There’s a letter to “Aristo my love” jewellery, a score from Tosca, clothing items and a piano specially commissioned for the diva to withstand the damp on the Christina.
 
“Onassis was a man whom women loved, and not only for his money,” Papadimitriou said.
 
The Christina, a converted Canadian corvette named after Onassis’ daughter, “was effectively the center of Onassis’ life,” exhibition curator Sophia Handaka said.
 
Part of the luxury yacht’s library features in the exhibition, together with paintings, bone ship’s models carved by French prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars, and Onassis’ desk.
 
“Aristotle Onassis, beyond his myth” opens to visitors on October 5 and runs through November 12.
 
Related Links >
 
Benaki Museum > http://www.benaki.gr/index-en.htm
 
Alexander S. Onassis Foundation > http://www.onassis.gr/english/main/index.php

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