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 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 15:33 GMT
Teenager inherits Onassis fortune
Athina Roussel-Onassis
The Onassis family has a troubled history
The granddaughter of the late shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis has turned 18, inheriting part of the family's multi-billion dollar fortune and becoming one of the richest people in the world.

Athina Roussel becomes the owner of mansions, an art collection, islands, shares, money, a private jet and other luxury items.

The inheritance passed down from her mother, Christina, who died in 1988.

Since her mother's death Athina has mainly lived with her father, Thierry Roussel, in Switzerland.

She is the last direct descendant of the Greek-born Onassis.

The tycoon, who left his country of birth with just $60, made his first million by the age of 25 and died in possession of a shipping fleet larger than many navies.

Greek island

As of Wednesday, Athina Roussel inherits her mother's half of the Onassis fortune, which some estimates have put at 2.3bn euros.

Christina Onassis died 15 years ago of a suspected overdose of diet pills after a turbulent life of failed marriages and alleged drug abuse.
Aristotle Onassis
Aristotle Onassis had more ships than many navies

The other half of the fortune is administered by the Onassis Foundation, set up by her grandfather after the death of her uncle Alexander in a plane crash 30 years ago.

According to Aristotle Onassis' will, Roussel may become president of the foundation when she reaches the age of 21.

Roussel - who has until now had an annual allowance of 8m euros - once threatened to relinquish the fortune in view of her family's troubled history.

But she has now reconsidered, and her 18th birthday inheritance includes an art collection, cash deposits in more than 200 banks and the Greek island of Scorpios.

The fortune does not, however, include any ships.

Horses

Alexis Mantheakis, a former spokesman for Athina's father, told the AFP news agency she was a "very serious-minded, very mature girl", and that the fortune was unlikely to change much in her life.

She has been mainly sheltered from the public eye.

She is a keen horsewoman, and is expected to represent Greece in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Her boyfriend, 29-year-old Alvaro de Mirando Neto, won a showjumping bronze medal for Brazil in Sydney in 2000.

The Swiss weekly l'Illustre said Athina had recently told her father she wanted to spend most of the money on charity projects.

She is also said to be planning to set up a horse-breeding farm.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Tim Bowler
"Athina Roussels birthday will begin with a trip to a swiss accountants office"
See also:

28 Jan 03 | UK
27 Nov 02 | Entertainment
27 Nov 02 | Entertainment
24 Apr 01 | Americas
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