Onassis was born in Smyrna of Asia Minor (now Izmir) at a time when a prosperous Greek population existed on the Turkish coast.
In 1922 he arrived on the mainland together with hundreds of thousands of Greek refugees, following the Smyrna catastrophe. He shortly emigrated to Argentina with very little money where he started working as a telephone operator and then as a cigarette m
anufacturer with tobacco he imported from Turkey. The tobacco business and trading with Greece earned him a lot of money and he was eventually appointed Greek Consul in Argentina.
The social status of the title and the flourishing business allowed him to buy his first ships in 1932. His schrewd, ingenious and often unconventional and questionable business tactics helped him to become one of the world’s biggest shipping magnates and a legendary figure in financial circles worldwide.
In 1946 Onassis married Tina, the daughter of shipping tycoon Stavros Livanos, and together they had a son, Alexandros, and a daughter Christina. In 1957 he started a passionate affair with the opera diva Maria Callas, and in 1968 he married Jackie Kennedy, widow of JFK.
In 1956 he founded the world’s first private national airline - Olympic Airways - after being granted the licence from the Greek government, together with a series of exeptional concessions like tax cuts, state reimbursment for losses, exclusive rights, and low interest loans. Under his ownership Olympic reached its heyday of glamour but failed to become profitable and Onassis returned it to the Greek state in 1975.
In 1973, his son Alexandros was killed in a private airplane crash. Onassis never recovered.
In fact this was the beginning of his own end which came two years later on the 15th of March 1975.Aristotle Onassis was buried next to Alexandros on his private Ionian island of Scorpios which he had bought in 1963.
His daughter Christina, mother of Athena the only heir to the Onassis fortune, was also buried there after her death in 1988.