For her 28th birthday in January, Athina Onassis de Miranda celebrated at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The club’s roster boasts famous last names (Jessica Springsteen and Georgina Bloomberg ride there), and Onassis, the only living descendant of Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis, could easily fund a big blowout. But the famously private heiress chose a low-key gathering with just her husband, show jumper Alvaro “Doda” de Miranda Neto, and “10 to 12 friends, all regular riders,” says equestrian Mason Phelps Jr. As another insider put it: “Athina and Doda are strictly horse people.”

Not that life is all mucking-out-the-stalls for the woman who, at age 3, was branded the “richest little girl in the world” when her mother, Christina, died in 1988. Now, a decade after coming into $800 million, Onassis appears to be living an expectedly cushy – but not at all high-profile – life. To her, a grand romantic gesture is reportedly buying Doda a $320,000 prize cow for his cattle farm. She keeps to herself but made news earlier this year by selling her grandfather’s island of Skorpios, where he married Jackie Kennedy in 1968, for a reported $150 million.

After her own well-guarded 2005 nuptials (Veuve Clicquot was poured for 1,000 guests, who were asked to give to charity in lieu of gifts), she and Doda, 40, settled in his native São Paulo in a home with parking for 15 cars. They also keep a house in Holland and are raising Vivienne, 12, his daughter with late model Cibele Dorsa, and Dorsa’s son Fernando, 16. After battling her dad, Thierry Roussel, for control of her inheritance, Onassis embraced her estranged father at the September wedding of half sister Sandrine Roussel.

In a rare interview, given recently to French equestrian magazine L’Eperon, Onassis explained, “The social whirl was never my thing. Everyone likes living in their own way. Me, I like the tranquility we have.” Her dream is something money can’t buy: jumping in the Olympics, where Doda took bronze in 2000 and 1996. “We’ll see,” Athina says. “There is still work to do.”

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