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Athina Onassis heiress caused Greek controversy October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Sports & Games.
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The heiress Athina Onassis de Miranda has caused huge controversy in Athens by failing to attend a press conference, pronounce a word in Greek or even hand out cups to the winners of an equestrian event held in her mother’s memory.

Making her second visit to Athens in five years, the last surviving member of the shipping dynasty has been criticised for being herself: low-key and media-shy. Few Greeks could understand how the 22-year-old could spend nearly a week in Greece without visiting Skorpios, the Ionian island where her mother Christina was buried after her death in 1988. The heiress’s failure to appear in public to publicise an international horse show in Christina’s memory that she has backed was greeted with disbelief.

“From the day she arrived we had our first surprise,” wrote the local Sunday Espresso. “While many expected her to accompany her husband, the Brazilian equestrian Alvaro Alfonso de Miranda Neto, to the press conference, she shone through her failure to even be there.”

Athina Onassis de Miranda, who was raised by Lake Geneva with her three half-siblings, has avoided Greece since her mother’s death in Buenos Aires. Years of legal tussles between her father, Thierry Roussel, and the Onasssis Foundation, the Athenian trustees of her estate are believed to have estranged her further. At the age of 10, she revealed in a handwritten will that she intended to give her entire fortune away. But when she came into her $1.3 billion inheritance at the age of 21, Greeks had hoped she would change. In 2004, there was speculation that the talented equestrian would represent Greece in the Athens Olympics.

Far from embracing the country of her forefathers, however, Athina Onassis de Miranda has shunned it in favour of a cloistered life with her husband, hopscotching between Brussels and Sao Paolo.

“In the last five years she has spent precisely two days in Greece,” Alexis Mantheakis, the family’s former spokesman said. “Holding an event here in memory of her mother is nice, but what would make the Greek people happy is if she went to Skorpios every now and then and lit a candle for her mother, grandfather and other relatives who are buried there.”

Despite retaining servants on the island, where her grandfather Aristotle married Jackie Kennedy, the heiress has not visited the once fabled get-away since 1998. This year Athina shocked Greeks by failing to attend the funeral of Kalliroe Patronicola, her favourite aunt and last surviving sister of Aristotle Onassis, in Athens. Later she sold her mother’s Swiss chalet in St Moritz for €20 million and placed an ad in Greek newspapers for the sale of the Athenian site where the House of Onassis had once lived in splendour.

“Her whole attitude is very strange and very sad,” said one old family friend, requesting anonymity. “It is as if she wants nothing to do with her past and Greece.”

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