Athina Onassis Roussel

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Athina Onassis Roussel

Athina Onassis de Miranda with AD Crosshill, CSI 5* horse show Hamburg 2011
Born(1985-01-28) January 28, 1985 (age 27)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
OccupationEquestrian athlete
Owner, AD Sport Horses
Spouse(s)Álvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto (2005–present)
ParentsThierry Roussel
Christina Onassis
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Athina Onassis Roussel

Athina Onassis de Miranda with AD Crosshill, CSI 5* horse show Hamburg 2011
Born(1985-01-28) January 28, 1985 (age 27)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
OccupationEquestrian athlete
Owner, AD Sport Horses
Spouse(s)Álvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto (2005–present)
ParentsThierry Roussel
Christina Onassis

Athina Onassis Roussel (born January 28, 1985) is a French heiress, the only surviving descendant of Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping magnate.

She is sole heir to her late mother, who inherited about half the fortune of Aristotle Onassis. The other half was left to the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. The two halves of the fortune are separately managed. Despite keen investigation by the media, the extent of Roussel's wealth remains unknown.

Roussel married Brazilian Olympic showjumper Alvaro de Miranda Neto in 2005. She is a competition showjumper in her own right, under the name Athina Onassis de Miranda.


Early life

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Athina is the only child of Christina Onassis (1950–1988) and her fourth husband, Thierry Roussel, a French pharmaceutical heir and brother of Christine Hélène, the current duchess of Luynes by her marriage with Jean d'Albert, 12th duc de Luynes. Prior to her December 2005 marriage, her legal name was Athina Roussel. However, upon her marriage to Alvaro Alfonso de Miranda Neto, she took the name "Athina de Miranda," and soon afterwards legally added the Onassis name. In equestrian events, she is usually listed as "Athina Onassis de Miranda," "Athina de Miranda," or "Athina Onassis Miranda."

She was born 12 years after the death of her uncle Alexander, 11 years after the death of grandmother Tina, almost exactly a decade after the death of grandfather Aristotle, and was just three years old when mother Christina died. After her mother's death, she was raised by her father and his second wife, Marianne "Gaby" Landhage, a Swedish model who had been Roussel's longtime mistress and by whom he already had two children, born during Roussel's marriage to Christina.

For her early education, she attended a school in Lussy-sur-Morges (Switzerland), where the Roussels lived in a five-bedroom villa. Following a preparatory course in Brussels, she passed her baccalauréat exam in the summer of 2003.[1]

Roussel has three half-siblings:

Personal fortune

The extent of her inheritance is the subject of much argument. Sources never seem to agree on whether her collective heritage is actually worth at least a billion since she is often credited as the "billionaire heiress" throughout the media. There have been several calculations of the assets believed to be part of her inherited portfolio, including a small island off the coast of Greece named "Skorpios", which is still in her possession despite many rumors of its being sold, for example to Giorgio Armani.[2] By some accounts it is doubted that her collective heritage regardless of calculations was at least a billion, thus not actually making her a legitimate billionaire.[3] One cause for confusion is the media's tendency to blur the line of distinction between what she owns and what the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation owns.[4]

In 1999, at the age of 13, she said in court documents she felt "great aversion to anything Greek", even though her mother was Greek.[5][6]

Legal entanglements

Christina Onassis never trusted Thierry Roussel completely, which led the family to arrange for a Board of Administrators to have control over the family money until Athina came of age. The trustees selected by Christina to manage Athina's estate in the event of Christina's death were as follows: Stelio Papadimitriou, Paul Ioannidis, Apostolos Zabelas, Theodore Gabrielides and Thierry Roussel.[7] The "four Greeks" (the four other than Thierry Roussel) have frequently been dubbed in the media as the "greybeards."[8] During Athina's childhood and adolescence, all expenditures made on her behalf by her father (using money from the Onassis inheritance) had to be approved by the Board in advance (which led her father to threaten constantly to move back to Paris, France, with the family, where income taxes would cost the estate a "small fortune a year", as Roussel put it).[8] In 1999, a Vaduz court ordered the transfer of management of her inheritance from the five trustees selected by her mother to the KPMG Fides auditing firm in Lucerne.[9]

On Athina's 18th birthday, she was of legal age to take control of half of her inheritance. Despite massive media interest from across the world, there were a minimum of formalities in Switzerland and the day passed almost like every other one as half the Onassis fortune and a part of the Livanos shipping inheritance, handed down via Athina's mother's will, passed to Athina. It was an event for which she had been prepared by her family for a long time and the 18-year-old heiress knew what would happen at one minute past midnight and what was expected of her.[10]

On her 21st birthday, she did not take control of the other half or become the president of the Onassis Foundation, with assets in excess of US$2.1 billion. The Foundation's Board has made public that they have no interest in turning over control to Athina, who they say has no real qualifications to take on the role. Moreover, the Onassis Foundation officially denies that she ever was an heir to the estate of Aristotle Onassis; they acknowledge her only as heiress to her mother's fortune.[11]

The Board has arranged to modify the Statutes of the Foundation so that Athina would not become head of the Foundation automatically upon turning 21. Her lawyers contested the validity of the changes and unsuccessfully fought for her stated desire to be President of the Foundation as of January 2006, when she turned 21.[12]

Stelios Papadimitriou, president of the foundation, has remarked: "We are not going to turn the Onassis Foundation over to someone who has no connection with our culture, our religion, our language or our shared experiences, and who never went to college or worked a day in her life. She can do whatever she wants with what she inherited from her mother, but not with Onassis's legacy to the Greek people in memory of [Athina's uncle], Alexander Onassis." Under the terms of her grandfather's will, his fortune was divided in two, with half going to set up a Vaduz-based charitable foundation in memory of his only son, Alexander, who was killed in a plane crash.

Personal life

Since she started dating Brazilian professional showjumper (and two-time Olympic medalist) Alvaro Miranda Neto, more commonly known as "Doda", in March 2003, Athina moved to São Paulo, in Brazil, where the couple now live. She paid $8.6 million for a 10,600-square-foot (980 m2) duplex, with space for 15 cars and overlooking Ibirapuera Park.[1][13]

Neto and Onassis were married on December 3, 2005, after which it is believed that she assumed a hybrid version of the Onassis and Miranda names, thus apparently dropping the Roussel name. The bride's father and stepmother were not at the ceremony, though her half-sister Sandrine Roussel was invited.[13][14][15][16]

Some anecdotes of the wedding refer to the guests' consumption of 1000 bottles of champagne. Most witnesses were Brazilian VIPs or friends of the couple from the equestrian community. Athina and Doda decided not to publish photos of the wedding (as they were going to do) after a television report some days before the wedding about the death of Athina's mother. The couple reportedly asked for no presents and asked their guests to donate the money intended for presents to charity.[17]

Equestrian career

Onassis-Miranda began her equestrian career as a teenager, when she was still known as Athina Roussel. More recently, in an effort to reattach to her maternal roots, Onassis-Miranda, expressed an interest in learning Greek and even renewed her Greek passport.[1] She switched her national affiliation from France to Greece, effective for all of her equestrian competitions.

Athina Onassis and Alvaro de Miranda Neto have a home base in São Paulo, but they travel throughout the year with the Global Champions Tour, of which Onassis-Miranda is official patroness.[18] The Rio de Janeiro leg of the tour is, in fact, named for Onassis; the Athina Onassis International Horse Show, established in 2007, was initially set in São Paulo, but as of 2009, its venue is a newly renovated center in Rio de Janeiro.[19] Onassis and Miranda are joint owners of AD Sport Horses, their company based in Fleurus.[20]



Further reading


  1. ^ a b c Gage, Nicholas: "The Last Onassis." Vanity Fair, Issue 537. May 2005
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Is Athina Onassis Really A Billionaire?"
  4. ^ [Goldman, Lea: "Is Athina Onassis really a billionaire?", FORBES, 3 March 2003]
  5. ^ The words of Athina Roussel herself in one of the few public interviews that she has granted: Published in Oggi, an Italian magazine, in 1999. In this interview, English translations claim that she blamed "all the problems" on the Onassis name. On a similar note, her stepmother, Gaby, was quoted from a 20/20 article with Diane Sawyer (1998) saying that Athina had told her if she could burn all the Onassis money, she would do it.
  6. ^ "Hostage to fortune";; January 25, 2003
  7. ^ Stelio Papadimitriou's obituary
  8. ^ a b Klein, Edward: "The Battle Over the Golden Girl" Vanity Fair. November 1997
  9. ^ "Onassis Foundation not to appeal court Swiss court ruling" Athens News Agency; December 8, 1999
  10. ^ "Heiress Comes of Age" CNN LIVE Daryn Kagan interviewing Alexis Mantheakis, January 29, 2003, 10.55
  11. ^ The Foundation Estate at
  12. ^ [Smith, Helena: "Legal row taints special day for Onassis heiress Athina," The UK Guardian, 28 January 2006]
  13. ^ a b Watson, Jeremy; "O what a wedding... and in Jackie's dress too" News; December 4, 2005
  14. ^ Smith, Helena; "Another Onassis wedding - another drama"; The Guardian December 2, 2005
  15. ^ Zahar, Cristina; "Billionaire Onassis Heiress Weds Brazilian Equestrian Champ"; Reuters/Washington; December 5, 2005
  16. ^ Williams, Alexandra; "Daddy stays away as Onassis heiress weds her playboy"; Daily Mail, December 5, 2005
  17. ^ [Silverman, Stephen: "Athina Onassis Weds Brazilian Horseman", People Magazine, 3 December 2005]
  18. ^ Letter from Athina Onassis de Miranda, Global Champions Tour official website
  19. ^ Athina Onassis International Horse Show
  20. ^ Ormsby, Mary: "The horse, the heiress, and the golden hurdle," 3 June 2007