From now on, if there is anything to be decided, you will be dealing with me,” said Christina Onassis to an aide in London shortly after her father’s death washed one of the world’s largest independent shipping fleets into her untested hands.
Some two months later, Aristotle Onassis’ only surviving child became Mrs. Alexander Andreadis. But marriage into the Greek financial dynasty, long in fierce rivalry with her father, only confirmed that Christina was indeed an Onassis—in spirit, if no longer in name. True, the romance had not been of the Wagnerian dimensions of Ari’s protracted affair with diva Maria Callas or his marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy. Christina and Alexander met for the first time only weeks before their private wedding in a small chapel outside Athens. “It was like being made king for life,” gushed the bridegroom of his decision to abandon an American girlfriend in favor of the heiress.
Christina’s romantic ardor appeared to some more like shrewd business sense. OPEC price hikes and a global recession have reduced the boom profits Onassis once wrung from his heavily mortgaged fleet of tankers. If cash is needed, it will come from bankers like Alexander’s dad, Stratis.
Mrs. Andreadis, who had been married and divorced previously, says, “Marriage was not an escape from the responsibilities I inherited from my father. Quite the opposite: a strengthening of my resolve to be a complete woman, without mirages or myths.
“My aim is to participate fully in the Onassis business interests. It’s part of me—as is my marriage. I am learning the details of both institutions. If you decide what you really want, you’d be silly to believe it impossible. Right?”
She appears to have adopted her father’s management technique: rely on trusted executives to run things, be creative yourself. Creativity does not for the moment extend to progeny. Christina frequently must deny rumors that she is a mother—as well as a conglomerate—to be.