Stavros Niarchos

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Stavros Niarchos on the cover of Time in the fifties
Stavros Niarchos on the cover of Time in the fifties

Stavros Spyros Niarchos (3 July 190916 April 1996) was a billionaire Greek shipping tycoon, sometimes known as "The Golden Greek." In 1952, Stavros Niarchos built the first supertankers capable of transporting large quantities of oil, and subsequently earned millions of dollars as global demand for his ships increased.


[edit] Early life

He was born in Athens, son of Spyros Niarchos and his wife, the former Eugenia Coumandaros. His parents were naturalized Americans and had owned a department store in Buffalo, New York before returning to Greece, three months prior to his birth. He studied law at the University of Athens, after which he went to work in the Coumandaros family's grain business.[1] During this period, he became involved in shipping by convincing his relatives that greater profits could be achieved if the firm owned the ships involved.[2]

[edit] Shipping successes

He was a naval officer in World War II, during which time part of the trade fleet he had built with his uncle was destroyed. He used about two million dollars in insurance monies to build a new fleet.

In 1952, Stavros Niarchos built the first supertankers capable of transporting large quantities of oil. His naval rival, Aristotle Onassis, did the same in 1952. In 1956 the Suez Canal Crisis considerably increased the demand for the type of large tonnage ships that Niarchos owned. Business flourished and he became a billionaire.

[edit] Marriages

Niarchos's five marriages produced two daughters and three sons: Philippos, known as Philippe (the father of Stavros Niarchos III), Spyros, and Konstantin.

  • His first marriage, in 1930 to Helen Sporides, a daughter of Admiral Constantine Sporides, lasted one year.
  • His second marriage was to Melpomene Capparis in 1939, whom he divorced in 1947.[1]
  • His third wife was Eugenia Livanos, a daughter of shipping magnate Stavros G. Livanos; they divorced in 1965, and she died in 1970, at the age of 44, after an overdose of barbiturates.
    • During this marriage he had an affair with Pamela Churchill (later Pamela Harriman).
  • His fourth wife was American automotive heiress and socialite Charlotte Ford (a daughter of Henry Ford II) in Mexico.[2] Ford was at the time pregnant with their daughter, Elena Anne Ford, and the child was born six months later. The marriage ended in divorce the following year, whereupon Niarchos returned to his former wife, Eugenia. No remarriage was necessary, since the couple's 1965 Mexican divorce was not recognized in Greece.[3]
  • in 1971, Niarchos married his wife Eugenia's sister, Athina, Marchioness of Blandford, who had been the first wife of Aristotle Onassis. She also died from an overdose, in 1974.

From the late 1970s until his death, he was linked to Princess Firyal of Jordan.

[edit] Later career

After the oil crisis of 1973, Stavros Niarchos sold off some of his companies and launched into finances and the diamond trade. In the 1980s, he came more and more often to Geneva, from where he managed his business around the globe. The Golden Greek, as his fellow countrymen liked to call him, retired in the nineties to his main residence in Saint-Moritz, in the Graubünden, where he devoted a lot of time to his favorite sport, skiing.

In 1956 Niarchos acquired the important art collection of actor Edward G. Robinson and over the years put together one of the world's most significant collections with more than one hundred Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. In 1989, he purchased Picasso's self-portrait "Yo Picasso" for $47,850,000, plus he acquired works by Van Gogh, Goya, El Greco, and Rubens.

[edit] Thoroughbred horse racing

Niarchos began investing thoroughbred horse racing in the early 1970s when he put together a highly successful stable of racehorses that competed in France and the United Kingdom. He eventually acquired the Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard horse breeding farm in Neuvy-au-Houlme, France and Oak Tree Farm in Lexington, Kentucky where in 1984 his most successful horse Miesque was bred.

After his death in 1996, his daughter Maria Niarchos-Gouazé took charge of the racing operations. She continued to build on his success, and in 2004 her colt Bago won France's most important race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Stavros Niarchos died in 1996, in Zurich. He is buried in the family tomb in Lausanne.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "An International Marriage". Retrieved on December 14, 2006. page 3.
  2. ^ Time Magazine, December 24, 1965. "An International Marriage.". Retrieved on December 14, 2006.

[edit] External links

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