We all know that money can’t buy happiness, but there are many who’ve tried to prove otherwise. Christina Onassis, heiress to billions, spent her entire life and a lot of her wealth trying to do just that: Buy happiness, companionship, and love...In the end, she paid the ultimate price. Grab a few tissues as we read about this poor little rich girl who hankered after that elusive thing called “love".
Christina Onassis was born in 1950, in New York City to Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, and Tina Livanos Onassis, a wealthy heiress in her own right. You’d think the couple would be happy to welcome their second child and only daughter, but guess what? You’d be completely wrong. Ari didn’t want any kids after his son was born, and Tina only kept Christina for one terribly selfish reason.
When the doctors told Christina's mother that an abortion might make her infertile, she decided to keep the baby. After all, what if she married again and wanted another baby? This decision railed against her husband's wishes who wanted the pregnancy terminated from the get-go. However, the second Christina was born, her mother had a chilling change of heart.
Even as a baby, Christina was the spitting image of her father. For Tina, this spelled disaster. Blonde, with delicate features and a naturally slim figure, she felt horrified by her dark-haired, solidly-built daughter. As Christina grew into a woman, she sprouted her father's beak-like nose and developed his dark circles. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
As time passed, it became horrifyingly clear that Christina was not her mother's favorite. But while this destroyed her self-esteem, there was at least one person in her corner. Although he’d strongly opposed her birth, Aristotle Onassis changed his tune once Christina was born. Delighted that she looked exactly like him, he’d call her Chryso mou, Greek for “my golden one,” and seemed to have a soft spot for her.
Christina delighted in the attention, and both she and her brother loved having their dad around. Alas, they soon discovered how rare his visits would be, and what their parents thought would make up for their absence.
Christina grew up surrounded by every luxury imaginable. Even her dolls had Dior dresses tailored according to the latest Parisian fashion. But sadly, no amount of pretty dolls could make up for her father's absence. She quickly learned that wealth was a double-edged sword. Although she attended the best schools in Paris, and later, in Manhattan, England, and Switzerland, she often felt like an outsider.
Desperate for attention, Christina did something that shocked her family.
When she was just five years old, Christina stopped talking. The change was so abrupt and complete that her parents felt obligated to consult the best child psychologists in Zurich. According to them, Christina had “mercurial mutism"—something common in insecure and overprotected children as a means to seek attention. Even at a young age, her mental health was undoubtedly fragile—and it was only going to get worse.
Christina's happiness plunged into despair when her parents eventually divorced. Although she’d never seen them have a close or loving relationship, this came as a huge blow to her. She came to hate Maria Callas, a Greek opera singer who was also her father’s mistress—and blamed her for the divorce. In fact, Christina never got over the separation, and once told an interviewer that “I’ve been an adult since I was nine".
Because her parents had shared joint custody of her, Christina became used to a nomadic lifestyle, though she didn’t like it one bit. Despite the riches afforded her, the young heiress dreamed of a different life altogether—a much simpler life...
Compared to her peers, Christina's life seemed like an absolute dream. She’d lived on a ship, she’d been skiing in Switzerland, studied in Paris, and yet, her biggest dream was utterly humble. More than anything, she wanted to live in a peaceful house by the sea and play board games with friends her own age. For a short while, Christina cultivated a happy home life with her mother's second husband and his children.
It was the closest she came to having a real, stable family. Unfortunately, like everything else in her life, these relationships always came to a tragic close.
Christina didn’t have a weight problem while she was growing up, but she did have another problem. The girl loved Coca-Cola. In fact, she loved it so much that she had a Coke machine installed in her Swiss high school. She was also very fond of food. Obsessed with her looks, Christina spent hours staring at herself in the mirror, rushing to change if she noticed the slightest crease or spot on her clothes.
But unfortunately, her preoccupation with superficiality would only lead to heartache.
While she was still at her Swiss high school, Christina developed a huge crush on an eligible Greek bachelor whom she'd met with her dad. His name was Peter Goulandris. Interestingly, Aristotle totally approved of Goulandris, probably because he belonged to a billionaire shipping family. But there was one problem. Goulandris’s mother wasn’t a huge fan of the Onassis family or Christina—and she surely wasn't going to let her son make an unsuitable match.
Supposedly, Goulandris’s mom had told him he could continue seeing Christina, as long as the relationship remained platonic. While losing her virginity may not have been a top priority at 16, by the time she turned 19, Christina started to worry about her disappointing lack of bedroom action. Goulandris still hadn’t made a move. And so, she decided to do something rather extreme.
Christina always knew she had to do something about her nose. Her mom had always told her that. So at 18, she went for a nose job and, while she was at it, got the dark circles under her eyes treated as well. Above all, she hoped that Goulandris would appreciate her stunning transformation. Sadly, she couldn’t revel in her new look for long.
Not long after, she learned some devastating news about her father that overshadowed everything else.
Secretly, Christina had always harbored the childish idea that her parents might remarry. Therefore, it came as a crushing blow when her dad told her he was marrying the famous Jackie Kennedy. She begrudgingly attended the wedding but cried throughout the entire service. Not even time could ease Christina's resentment of her father's new wife.
As the years passed, she never warmed to Jackie. Christina looked at her father's bride and all she was a gold-digger, even going so far as to call her “my father’s unfortunate obsession". And if there was one thing Christina didn't shy away from, it was defying her millionaire father.
Whether it was because she was tired of waiting for Goulandris to take their relationship to the next level, or because she wanted to rebel against her father, Christina decided to shake things up a little. When she met Danny Marentette at her uncle’s place in St. Moritz, there was no looking back. They became lovers in a week, much to her father’s chagrin.
Of course, he too had a plan to bring his daughter back to heel.
Worried that his golden child was throwing her life away, Aristotle Onassis hatched a cunning plan. He announced his daughter's engagement with Peter Goulandris in the newspapers. Of course, if this was a challenge then Christina certainly knew how to take her father on. She flew to New York to her lover, and when Jackie arrived to reason with her, she dropped a shocker.
Christina shocked her family by announcing her pregnancy and that she wanted to keep the baby. However, it only took one tragedy to destroy her best-laid plans. Christina’s beloved aunt had taken her own life. At the funeral, Christina's parents joined forces, stressing to Christina that an unhappy marriage had driven her aunt to her grave.
It was all too much for Christina. In the wake of aunt's passing, she booked an abortion and agreed to part ways with Marentette forever.
She may have left Marentette, but that didn’t mean Christina had sworn off love altogether. Her next fling was with the Argentinian polo player, Luis Basualdo. This connection would remain the longest and most constant one throughout her life. After meeting him in St. Moritz, Christina was immediately attracted to him, and—as was her modus operandi—she pursued him relentlessly.
Basualdo may have snubbed Christina in the beginning, but he wasn’t going to ignore an heiress who was throwing herself at him for too long. Instead, he left his long-time girlfriend in Austria and returned to Christina in St. Moritz. They were together for three months—but when she asked him to elope, he gave her a brutal response.
Basualdo told Christina that he couldn't marry her because he simply couldn't afford her lifestyle. Despite her pitiful pleas, Basauldo had already made up his mind. He had absolutely no intention of keeping the relationship exclusive and headed back to Argentina. Christina was utterly heartbroken—but she didn't waste time wallowing in her feelings.
Furious with Basualdo for ditching her, Christina turned her attention towards Mick Flick, heir to the Mercedez Benz fortune. They met for dinner and got along really well, but Flick immediately told her that they could only be friends. He admitted that only blondes turned him on. Did our girl Christina back down? Of course not. She had a solution to the problem...and it completely backfired.
In the hopes of pleasing her newest conquest, Christina dyed her hair blond. And she didn’t do things by halves. She dyed everything blonde. But if she thought this was the perfect seduction strategy, she was so, so wrong. Flick felt revolted by Christina's desperation. Even so, she still wouldn’t take no for an answer. In an effort to shake her off his back, Flick went and tattled on her.
Because of Christina's incessant advances, Flick arranged a meeting with her dad’s right-hand man and explained to him that while he respected Christina, he had no plans to marry anyone for several years. This did not end well. When Aristotle learned of his daughter's behavior, he lashed out at her for making a mockery of their name.
Although Aristotle's wrath stopped Christina from pursuing Flick, she didn't quit her creepy habits altogether. She continued to keep tabs on who he was dating and asked each girl for intimate details. Luckily, she found another diversion.
The next man Christina hooked up with was Joseph Bolker, a Jewish American, 27 years her senior. They met in Paris and went out a couple of times before they became lovers. After that, he'd travel from LA to Europe just to see her. That's when Christina's obsessive behavior kicked in. She grew more and more dependent on him, writing him weekly letters and calling him every day.
Although he'd been initially flattered by Christina's attention, Bolker started feeling uneasy about her mounting neediness. But when he tried to put some distance between them, Christina did not take it well.
As mentioned earlier, Christina had no concept of taking no for an answer. She flew to LA to meet Bolker and convinced him to marry her in the most chilling way. Distraught by Bolker's refusal, she purposefully took too many pills. When she woke, she turned to him and said, "I am going to go on doing this until you marry me". Feeling trapped and guilty, Bolker finally agreed. But this was no fairytale ending.
When Aristotle learned of his daughter's nuptials, he saw red. He told Christina that he'd altered the terms of her trust fund. Instead of getting $75 million when turned 21, she wouldn’t get anything until she divorced her new husband.
Christina felt happily surprised when her mom took her side and gave her and Bolker $200,000 to buy a beach house in California. But Tina Onassis had her reasons for helping Christina: She wanted her daughter to support her own marriage to her late sister Eugenie's husband. Unsurprisingly, all her efforts were in vain. Christina felt so betrayed by her own mother that Bolker had to physically restrain her.
After her mother's shameless behavior, Christina turned to her father for comfort. She visited him in November and, in a heartless twist of events, divorced Bolker after nine months of being his wife. Although father and daughter were on better terms than ever, another disaster was waiting in the wings to shatter their peace.
The Onassis siblings had never been particularly close. They were very different, and Christina had resented the attention her mother lavished on Alexander. However, they had grown close recently, so it came as a huge shock for her when a plane crash claimed her 24-year-old brother's life. The family felt devastated and none more than Aristotle.
Christina was his sole heir now, and with that came more responsibility than ever.
After his son passed, Aristotle started grooming Christina to take over his business. He founded the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation in his son’s memory and made his daughter the first president of the foundation. She would inherit 55% of his fortune, and he began training her by sending her to work in his New York office. His manager liked her, but his employees weren’t too sure. The new boss seemed to have a very short fuse.
Christina’s mother wanted to make an advantageous match for her, and she decided to unite her with her new husband’s son, Philippe Niarchos. Since the guy was Christina’s first cousin and now step-brother, it’s alarming to think that the couple found nothing untoward in encouraging this relationship. For some reason, Christina agreed to try out the arrangement, but both she and Philippe agreed that they were more like siblings than anything else. Phew.
Unfortunately, Christina's dating disasters had only just begun.
Four years younger than her, Thierry Roussel was the son of a famous French pharmaceutical family. Christina had known him since they were teenagers but felt an attraction for him when they met in 1974, many years after they’d first met. At 23 she made no secret of her interest, and even Aristotle was on board. Roussel however, declined because he already had a girlfriend.
Heartbroken, Christina turned to cousin Philippe for advice and he directed her towards someone she’d long forgotten.
Philippe advised Christina to forget about Roussel and reminded her that her old almost-fiance, Peter Goulandris, was still Greek, still rich, and still available. She reconnected with him in New York, and while it seemed like he was interested, it was common knowledge that his mother continued to despise the Onassis family. Once again, Christina found her love life in tatters—and it drove her to total breakdown.
Unfortunately, instead of a family member, the most constant person in Christina's life was Eleni, her maid. And it happened to be Eleni who raised the alarm when her mistress refused to get out of bed for 12 days. She called an ambulance and doctors discovered that Christina had taken too many sleeping pills. In an unusual show of affection, her mother immediately rushed to her side.
Her mother soon learned the distressing truth: Christina had tried to take her own life because Goulandris had refused to marry her. Unfortunately, this painful event would create a horrifying ripple effect.
Almost two months after this incident, Christina confronted another devastating loss. The staff found her mother, Tina, unresponsive in her bedroom. Niarchos had slept in another room so he discovered her lifeless body in the morning. It seemed all too familiar to Christina. Her aunt and mom had passed under the same suspicious circumstances.
Aristotle had accused Niarchos of doing away with Eugenie, but nothing had come out of that accusation. Now Christina accused him of taking her mother’s life and insisted on an autopsy. But she didn't get the answers she was looking for.
Tina’s passing, according to the autopsy, was because of pulmonary edema. However, too many barbiturates and tranquilizers may have accelerated the process. Incensed by Christina's accusations, Niarchos pointed out that her own selfish attempt on her life had pushed Tina into a deep depression. After seeing her daughter at her worst, Tina began drinking heavily, becoming more and more dependent on pills to fall asleep.
Despite these horrible revelations, Christina still tried to seek revenge by suing Niarchos. Unfortunately, no amount of anger could save this tragic heiress from even more heartbreak.
Soon, Christina realized that her father was terribly sick. She tried to learn everything she could about the business, but Aristotle’s condition depressed her greatly. With his health in a rapid decline, Aristotle also came to a disturbing revelation: He'd made a mistake in marrying Jackie Kennedy. He wanted a divorce —but unfortunately, that would never happen.
Christina Onassis’s father and last living family member passed in March 1975. She was by his side the whole time he was in the hospital and during his last days. Forever unhappy with his second wife, she agreed to give Jackie an out-of-court cash settlement of $26 million dollars in 15 minutes flat. This was much more than what Aristotle had bequeathed her, but much less than what she was entitled to as his widow under Greek law.
At this point, Christina just wanted Jackie out of her life and had no qualms about paying her off.
It’s hard to imagine a man as incapable of making up his mind as Peter Goulandris. Like a cursed boomerang, the guy kept coming back to Christina only to back out of the relationship. He went back to her after she took too many pills and even allowed her dad to betroth them as he lay on his deathbed. Of course, it wasn't long before his doubts resurface.
Funnily enough, the wannabe-couple even went on a “pre-honeymoon," but it was Christina herself who called off the engagement, saying she had become tired of people trying to marry her off.
Aristotle's passing hit Christina hard, but she soon decided she wouldn’t wallow in grief. On the contrary, she took the reins of his business, gave up her American citizenship, and seemed to relish her new role as the big boss. However, while she was wowing her employees with her confidence and business sense, it looked like things were headed straight for disaster.
You see, there was a chilling reason for Christina's new lease on life. Aristotle's passing had hit her so hard—she'd cut her wrist. This prompted the doctor to prescribe an antidepressant for her. While the pill helped, it left her feeling exhausted, so she started taking other substances to overcome the side effects. The consequences were dire.
Over time, Christina's addictions became utterly dangerous. She even had to hire a nurse to give her injections as the pills weren’t potent enough anymore. She felt caught in a vicious cycle; her mood swings were back and she started feeling suicidal again. Who knows what may have happened if she hadn’t met a certain someone at this point.
Perhaps Aristotle had pulled some strings from up above because the next man Christina fell for was a Greek, whose family had made their fortunes in the shipping business. It was love at first sight for Christina Onassis and Alexander Andreadis and they announced their engagement just eight days after they met. But would their love last longer than their engagement?
It seemed like Christina always tired of something as soon as she got it. At least, that’s how it had been with Bolker, and unfortunately, Andreadis would face the same fate. After the wedding, the honeymoon didn’t even last a month. People soon saw them quarreling in public and it looked far more serious than a harmless spat. And that wasn't all.
The couple might have divorced in two months flat if Christina hadn't felt uncomfortable leaving Andreadis when his family was going through a rough patch. At the time, they were under investigation for embezzlement. However, her patience had its limits—and after 13 months of marriage, she divorced him.
While everyone knew that Christina fell in love easily (and often with the wrong people), no one could have guessed that her next beau would be a Russian Communist. Sergei Kauzov was one of her business contacts in Russia, but she felt unusually drawn to him. She enjoyed bantering with him and probably felt attracted to him because he seemed so out of reach.
Kauzov was Russian, a KGB agent, and a member of Soviet Communist party, as well as being a husband and father. None of these were enough to deter Christina though, and they were soon having an illicit affair. A few months later, she asked him to marry her.
So determined was Christina to marry Kauzov, she did the unthinkable: She offered to pay off his wife so that she’d agree to a divorce. There was no need for this though; the divorce came through and Christina got to plan her ridiculously lavish ceremony. Unfortunately, the seeds of discontent had already been planted. You see, by the time her wedding date rolled around, Christina had already lost interest in husband-to-be.
Christina tried living in Moscow for a bit but realized it wasn’t for her. Kauzov agreed to a divorce as long as she settled him and his mother in Europe. And boy, he got the best deal imaginable. They divorced around two years later, and Christina bought him two ships worth over $7 million. However, their relationship wasn't truly over. On the contrary, Kauzov stayed in touch with her for several years, and very intimately too.
But he wasn’t the only one mooching off Christina.
Christina used her money to keep certain people tethered to her. She “hired” Luis Basualdo and his girlfriend as her companions for a whopping $360,000 a year. However, this meant Basualdo literally danced to her tune. He made love to her whenever her heart desired and did everything she asked him to do. Basualdo milked the arrangement too, charging her extra for every little thing.
For instance, he expected $500 for bringing the neighbor’s cat to play with her dog. Of course, they weren’t the only ones Christina dangled her purse over.
Christina was willing to do anything to keep people close to her. Apart from lending long-time friends, the Doderos, $4 million interest-free so they’d be bound to party with her and spend time with her whenever she wanted, Onassis also lent $50,000 to Nicky Mavroleon, a young man she felt attracted to. Initially, feeling obligated by the payment, Mavroleon spent three months with her—but it only led to lies and heartbreak.
When Mavroleon tried to break it off with Christina, she claimed she was pregnant with his child. Of course, this was a blatant lie, and she eventually confessed the truth. Moments like this only sent her reeling back into a depressive state.
Christina had plenty of demons to fight. She’d gained a lot of weight in Russia—because of Russian cola and caviar—which she still hadn’t lost. Mavroleon's rejection dealt another hit to her self-esteem, and afterward, she became completely dependent on anti-depressants and amphetamines again. This led to some erratic behavior.
Slowly but surely, Christina's life began to implode, and her eccentric routines certainly mirrored her distress. She’d dance all night long, and when it came to household, she made ridiculous rules: No one could go to bed before her, and nobody could sleep with one another. In fact, she even made her maid Eleni smell everyone’s bedsheets every day to ensure everyone's celibacy.
Headed straight for the deep end, Christina teetered on the brink of a mental breakdown.
Christina was nothing if not consistent. She still held a torch for Frenchman Thierry Roussel whom she’d known since childhood. When she met his dad, she decided to call him and see if he was still unavailable. To her delight, he wasn’t. They talked every day and when she confessed that she’d gained weight, he had the perfect solution.
Roussel told Christina about a Parisian health clinic where she could shed the pounds. In fact, he made a horrifying deal with her: If she lost 80 lbs, he would marry her. Sounds like such a catch, this man. Since our girl Christina had the self-esteem of a flea, she agreed and within a few weeks, she looked better than ever before. She was thinner, her teeth shone, and her hair was sleek and healthy.
Roussel found her pretty desirable, though I’m guessing her hefty purse helped too. The stage was set for yet another wedding.
Christina and Roussel tied the knot just three weeks after their engagement. She lost another 20 lbs. to fit in her $10,000 dress and married him in a civil ceremony to seal the deal. Although the bride looked radiant, and the groom very happy, it was Christina's $10 million gift to her husband that wowed the guests the most. Roussel was eager to make other changes in Christina's life too.
He upgraded her plane, her house, and she charged him with taking care of Skorpios Island too. More than ever before, she seemed more inclined to concentrate on her “wifely duties".
Soon, Christina got the news she’d been waiting for: She was pregnant. She got off all of her medications cold turkey, and stayed in bed for most of the nine months, not wanting to jinx anything. She also hired a French gynecologist to ensure a safe delivery. Basualdo was still her errand boy and she sent him to pay the doctor. She also spent hours talking to him to stay calm.
Finally, in January 1985, Christina gave birth to her first child, a daughter whom she named Athina. The baby was her pride and joy, and she hired two nannies and a guard to watch over little Athina constantly. However, she soon discovered something that robbed her of her happiness. Apparently, Roussel had started secretly seeing his old girlfriend.
The affair was serious enough that Roussel had another baby with his girlfriend, just six months after Athina’s birth. Though Christina kicked him out of the house in the beginning, she allowed him to return, hoping to resolve the issue. Well, that didn't change a thing. Roussel went ahead and betrayed Christina again, welcoming another baby with the very same girlfriend.
Our heiress finally caught on to the fact that Roussel was a waste of space, and divorced him. But she couldn't get rid of him that easily.
Unfortunately, Christina Onassis had an unhealthy obsession with several unfortunate vices. Her love for Coca-Cola was still so strong that she sent her ten-seater plane to New York every week to bring back 100 bottles of Coke. Similarly, she remained addicted to Roussel. After divorcing him, she decided she wanted him back, even if that meant sharing him with his girlfriend. Sigh. Oh, Christina.
Depressed after her divorce, Christina gained back the weight she'd lost and returned to the addictions she'd given up while pregnant. However, she had a plan, and yes, it was as crazy as they come. She wanted another child with Roussel and asked him to supply her with his seed so she could have one. Of course, Roussel, always the cad, agreed when Christina sweetened the deal with a $160,000 Ferrari.
She even told him she’d pay another $10 million once Baby Number Two arrived.
Christina wanted to make a fresh start with Athina, and she longed to give her the life she’d always dreamed of. She decided to move to Buenos Aires to find a big house with a huge outdoor space. She would stay with her old friends, the Doderos,’ until she found the perfect fit. Little did she know, Christina would never live to see her dreams come true.
A week or so after she’d arrived in Buenos Aires, Christina began complaining about feeling a bit chilly. Since she’d been out walking barefoot in the early morning, she figured she might have caught a cold. She called Athina that evening and seemed extremely happy after talking to her and planning her upcoming visit. They even decided they’d buy a pony for her.
The next morning, wondering why her friend was taking longer than usual to come down, Marina Dodero went to her room, only to discover Christina's half-dressed body in the tub. She’d passed on November 1978, just a month before her 38th birthday, in the midst of planning a new life with her beloved daughter.
According to the autopsy, Christina had passed because of pulmonary edema, just like her mom. However, her friends and family had their own theories. Some believed it was her many addictions, while some thought her terrible diet had pushed her body to its limit. Be that as it may, the truth was that Christina Onassis had passed. Her friends took her remains to Greece and buried her on Skorpios, next to her father and brother.
While Christina's name seemed to disappear with her passing, her daughter Athina took it up later when she became a competitive showjumper and represented Greece in the Championships. Her father and stepmother raised her, while a board set up by her mother controlled her considerable fortune until she came of age. Now 37, Athina is a renowned equestrian, but she keeps a low profile.
Her marriage ended in divorce, but this seems to be the only thing that the current Onassis heiress has in common with her famous mother.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to email@example.com. Thanks for your time!
Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your help!
The Factinate team
If you like humaverse you may also consider subscribing to these newsletters: