Athina Onassis Roussel
Athina Onassis Roussel (born January 29, 1985) is a competitive show jumper and heiress. She is the only surviving descendant of her grandfather Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping magnate, and is of half Greek and half French descent.
Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Athina is the only child of Christina Onassis (1950-1988) and her fourth husband, Thierry Roussel, a French pharmaceutical heir. Prior to her December 2005 marriage, her legal name was Athina Roussel. However, upon her marriage to Alvaro Alfonso de Miranda Neto, she took the name "Athina de Miranda," and soon afterwards, legally added the Onassis name. In equestrian events, she is usually listed as "Athina Onassis de Miranda," "Athina de Miranda," or "Athina Onassis Miranda."
She was born 12 years after the death of her uncle Alexander, 14 years after the death of grandmother Tina, almost exactly a decade after the death of grandfather Aristotle, and was just three years old when mother Christina died. After her mother's death, she was raised by her father and his second wife, Marianne "Gaby" Landhage, a Swedish model who had been Roussel's longtime mistress and by whom he already had two children, born during Roussel's marriage with Christina.
For her early education, she attended a school in Lussy-sur-Morges, where the Roussels lived in a five-bedroom villa. Following a preparatory course in Brussels, she passed her Baccalauréat exam in the summer of 2003.
Roussel has three half-siblings:
- Erik Christopher Roussel (born July 1985)
- Sandrine Roussel (born May 1987)
- Johanna Roussel (born July 1991)
The extent of her inheritance is the subject of much argument. Sources never seem to agree on whether she has US $600 million, or $800 million, or even as much as nearly $2 billion. One cause for confusion is the media's tendency to blur the line of distinction between what she owns and what the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation owns.
Christina Onassis never trusted Thierry Roussel completely, which led the family to arrange for a Board of Administrators to have control over the family money until Athina came of age. The trustees selected by Christina to manage Athina's estate in the event of Christina's death were as follows: Stelio Papadimitriou, Paul Ioannidis, Apostolos Zabelas, Theodore Gabrielides and Thierry Roussel. The "four Greeks" (the four other than Thierry Roussel) have frequently been dubbed in the media as the "greybeards." During Athina's childhood and adolescence, all expenditures made on her behalf by her father (using money from the Onassis inheritance) had to be approved by the Board in advance (which led her father to threaten constantly to move back to Paris, France with the family, where income taxes would cost the estate a "small fortune a year", as Roussel put it). In 1999, a Vaduz court ordered the transfer of management of her inheritance from the five trustees selected by her mother to the KPMG Fides auditing firm in Lucerne.
On Athina's 18th birthday, she was of legal age to take control of half of her inheritance. On her 21st birthday, she did not take control of the other half or become the president of the Onassis Foundation, with assets in excess of US$2.1 billion. The Foundation's Board has made public that they have no interest in turning over control to Athina, who they say has no real qualifications to take on the role. Moreover, the Onassis Foundation officially denies that she ever was an heir to the estate of Aristotle Onassis; they acknowledge her only as heiress to her mother's fortune.
The Board has arranged to modify the Statutes of the Foundation so that Athina would not become head of the Foundation automatically upon completing 21 years of age. Her lawyers contested the validity of the changes and unsuccessfully fought for her stated desire to be President of the Foundation as of January 2006, when she turned 21.
Stelios Papadimitriou, president of the foundation, has remarked: "We are not going to turn Onassis Foundation over to someone who has no connection with our culture, our religion, our language or our shared experiences, and who never went to college or worked a day in her life. She can do whatever she wants with what she inherited from her mother, but not with Onassis's legacy to the Greek people in memory of [Athina's uncle], Alexander Onassis." Under the terms of her grandfather's will, his fortune was divided in two, with half going to set up a Vaduz-based charitable foundation in memory of his only son, Alexander, who was killed in a plane crash.
Since she started dating Brazilian professional showjumper (and two-time Olympic medalist) Alvaro Miranda Neto, more commonly known as "Doda", in March 2003, Athina moved to São Paulo, in Brazil, where the couple now live. She paid $8.6-million for a 10,600-square-foot (980 m2) duplex, with space for 15 cars and overlooking Ibirapuera Park.
Alvaro Miranda previously was married to Cibele Dorsa, a Brazilian model, who is the mother of his daughter, Viviane de Miranda. Doda and his wife had been separated around the time Roussel joined the show jumping training school of Nelson Pessoa where Miranda also trained. A romance and a divorce ensued, with Sibele Dorsa remarking on the new couple, "She can buy him horses and I can't .... He exchanged me for Athina's money". She owns the Olympic Tower Building in New York City and the Greek Island of Skorpios.
Alvaro Miranda challenged Dorsa's accusation by speaking candidly for a Brazilian magazine (Istoé Gente). ,, He stated in the interview, which took place in February 2003 some weeks following his birthday, that he and (then) Onassis Roussel shared many things in common (i.e. both Aquarius, shared passion for equestrianism) that Onassis Roussel was surprisingly mature for a girl of then 17, and that he felt it was unfair to assume only a gold digger could be in love with a woman as special as her., Miranda further confided that Onassis Roussel was extraordinarily compassionate and helpful in a difficult time for him (the breakdown of his marriage to Dorsa)., Despite all the things that are being said in the magazines, Alvaro, Athina and Viviane are very happy together.
Roussel and Miranda were married on December 3, 2005, after which it is believed that she assumed a hybrid version of the Onassis and Miranda names, thus apparently dropping the Roussel name. The bride's father and stepmother were not at the ceremony, though her half-sister Sandrine Roussel was invited.
Some anecdotes of the wedding refer to the guests' consumption of 1000 bottles of champagne. Most witnesses were Brazilian VIPs or friends of the couple from the equestrian community. Athina and Doda decided not to publish photos of the wedding (as they were going to do) after a television report some days before the wedding about the death of Athina's mother. The couple reportedly asked for no presents and asked their guests to donate the money intended for presents to charity.
Onassis-Miranda began her equestrian career as a teenager, when she was still known as Athina Roussel. More recently, in an effort to reattach to her maternal roots, Onassis-Miranda, expressed an interest in learning Greek and even renewed her Greek passport. She switched her national affiliation from France to Greece, effective for all of her equestrian competitions.
Athina Onassis and Alvaro de Miranda Neto have a home base in São Paulo, but they travel throughout the year with the Global Champions Tour, of which Onassis-Miranda is official patroness. The Rio de Janeiro leg of the tour is, in fact, named for Onassis; the Athina Onassis International Horse Show, established in 2007, was initially set in São Paulo, but as of 2009, its venue is a newly renovated center in Rio de Janeiro. Onassis and Miranda are joint owners of AD Sport Horses, their company based in Fleurus.
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