The secret island of Skorpios

I’ve always been fascinated by the island of Skorpios.

I’ve sailed past it many times, circumnavigated it, and anchored off the beach for lunch and a swim, the last time being just the other day. But no-one is allowed to land on the island, and security is tight.  I’d love to be able to have a snoop around and see where Onassis and Jackie lived!

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Me, swimming off Skorpios, July 2016

Skorpios Island is mainly known as the private island which belonged to the late Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis. It was was bought by Onassis in 1962, it is believed he paid just 3.5 million drachmas, the equivalent of about £10,000.

The island is heavily forested and features over 200 varieties of trees imported to the once nearly barren island by Aristotle Onassis. It is reported that he had a private water supply piped to the island. In order to do this, he had to buy the nearby mountain on Lefkas where the water came from! There are some sandy beaches, most notably East Beach, which was created by Onassis, who brought sand from Salamis Island for this purpose.

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There is also a small shingle beach where the blue and white Mykonos house, formerly known as the “Pig House” is located. This was where Jackie Onassis was infamously photographed nude by a Greek paparazzo in the 1960s. This is the only bay on the island where yachts can anchor. You can swim ashore to the little beach, but it is all fenced off. All the other possible anchorages are buoyed off and notices warn you not to approach.  If a yacht dares to go inside the buoys, security guards appear instantly and chose you off, we have seen this happen!

Onassis married Jacqueline Kennedy in the little church on Skorpios on October 20, 1968. Upon his death, his daughter Christina inherited the island. She died of a heart attack in 1988, aged 37, then her daughter Athina Onassis Roussel inherited the island. Onassis, his son Alexander, and his daughter Christina are all buried on the island.

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In 2013 the island was sold by Athina to Russian socialite, Ekaterina Rybolovleva, 24, daughter of the billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the world’s 150th richest man, and majority owner of Monaco football club. Ekaterina bought the island for reportedly $100 million, and also purchased the nearby small island of Sparti. Read more about it here. A few years previously, she also reportedly paid $88 million for a penthouse flat, the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York.

For the second time in its history, Skorpios has served as a wedding location. In October 2015, the 26-year-old billionairess, married 34-year-old Swiss Juan Sartori on Skorpios. According to Greek media reports, 50-60 guests attended the discreet ceremony and the reception that followed.

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The family have reportedly done a lot of building and reconstruction work on Skorpios, since acquiring it. Most traces of the Onassis family have been removed. The handful of houses on the island have been renovated, gardens landscaped, features added, and modern technology utilised. There is a huge dock on the north of the island where their 67 metre mega-yacht ‘Anna’ can be moored. One report suggests that they keep a room in the main house as a museum to honour Onassis, containing more artefacts and photos found during the renovation process. Read a newspaper report here.

This summer, the actress Katie Holmes was allegedly photographed on set on Skorpios island while filming the wedding scenes for a new TV mini-series “The Kennedys: after Camelot”. The 37-year-old bears an uncanny resemblance to the iconic first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In the photos, Holmes is seen alongside actor and co-star Alexander Siddig, playing the role of Jackie O.’s second husband and Greek shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis, as they re-enact one of the biggest events in the couple’s lives, filmed at the church on the island.

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Jackie O and Onassis in the TV mini-series

All the above information I have gleaned from Internet research such as Google, Wikipedia, celebrity magazines, and newspapers. I apologise for any inaccuracies.

 

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