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Greece Seeks Legal Opinion on Onassis Heir’s Sale of Island

Greece’s government has sought the opinion of the country’s legal adviser on the reported sale of Skorpios island, the private retreat of late shipowner Aristotle Onassis, to a Russian billionaire by his only surviving heir.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has referred the matter to the Legal Council of the State to determine whether the sale is in the public’s best interests, according to a response from the Athens-based Finance Ministry to a question submitted to Parliament by a lawmaker. The response was dated May 20 and submitted to Parliament.

New Democracy lawmaker Ioannis Michelakis said Onassis’s will stipulates that Skorpios, in the Ionian Sea to the mainland’s northwest, should stay with his descendants as long as they can afford to maintain it and pass to the state if they can’t, according to his question to Stournaras.

Athina Onassis de Miranda, Onassis’s granddaughter, is in the process of selling the island to an unnamed Russian billionaire, Athens-based To Vima newspaper reported on April 8, without saying how it got the information. Forbes magazine reported on April 15 that the buyer is the family of Dmitry Rybolovlev, Russia’s 14th-richest person.

Onassis, who died in 1975 at age 69, specified in his will that the island should be used as a summer camp for children of employees of Olympic Airlines SA, the airline he founded, if it passes out of his family’s control, according to Michelakis. The tycoon married his second wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the assassinated U.S. president, on Skorpios in 1968. He is buried on the island along with his sister Artemis, his son Alexander and daughter Christina, according to the Onassis Foundation website.

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