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Onassis teenager inherits billions

In the money: Athina gets $2.7bn on her 18th and $2bn on her 21st
In the money: Athina gets $2.7bn on her 18th and $2bn on her 21st

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ATHENS, Greece -- Shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis's granddaughter has become one of the world's richest teenagers after inheriting her share of the family's fortune.

Athina Roussel picked up an estimated $2.7 billion in cash, homes, companies, art, shares, a private jet and the Greek Ionian island of Skorpios when she celebrated her 18th birthday on Wednesday.

She will inherit a further $2 billion on her 21st birthday when she will also take control of the Onassis Foundation.

Athina is the last direct descendant of Onassis but the wealth surrounding her life has also been mixed with tragedy.

Her mother, Christina, died in Argentina when Athina was three, from an alleged overdose of diet pills.

Christina had four failed marriages behind her when she died in 1988 and had suffered from depression and drugs abuse.

Athina has lived in Switzerland with her French-born father Thierry Roussel, Swedish step-mother and step-brother.

Athina's uncle who was being groomed to take over the Onassis empire also died young -- aged 25 in a 1973 plane crash.

Aristotle Onassis, who had married widowed Jacqueline Kennedy after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died two years later.

Athina's young years have also been a mix of glamour and intrigue, although Reuters reported her 18th birthday was being spent in the sombre surroundings of KPMG Fides, the Swiss firm that has overseen the estate since 1999, with Swiss authorities.

Her father lost a legal fight against senior members of the Onassis Foundation -- which partly managed Athina's fortune -- after accusing it of plotting with Israeli agents to have him killed and Athina kidnapped.

Athina has so far led a sheltered upbringing rarely being seen in public and on those occasions with a posse of bodyguards.

A family spokesman told Reuters: "Mr. Roussel, his daughter Athina and family have authorised me to say that no interview, statement or photo will be given here or elsewhere.

"This goes for everybody. We have been bombarded by phone calls and mail."

Athina is a keen horse rider and is hoping to compete for Greece in the Athens 2004 Olympics.


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