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For sale: the Greek island retreat once owned by Aristotle Onassis. Only the seriously rich need apply

Tags: island

It is the latest must-have holiday accessory for the rich and famous: their very own island in the warm blue waters of the seas around Greece.

Madonna, the singer and actress, and Richard Gere, the Hollywood film star, are among the multi-millionaires searching for the "perfect" holiday destination. Greek islands provide privacy, sandy beaches and at least four months of glorious weather every year.

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At least six islands are for sale and, according to locals, the latest to be discreetly put on the market is Scorpios, formerly owned by the late Aristotle Onassis, the billionaire Greek shipping magnate.

There are more than 1,500 islands in Greece, of which fewer than 200 are inhabited. Dozens of islands are privately owned, and after a change of Greek property laws last year, they can now be bought by foreigners.

Greece, the venue for this year's Olympic Games in August, is seen as an ideal choice for many, particularly wealthy Americans. It has a combination of a rich history, centred on Athens, and its abundance of tiny islands offer idyllic sailing and acres of olive and lemon groves. At least one famous foreigner has already bought her own island. Paloma Picasso, the daughter of the great artist, has bought the western island of Petalous - close to the mainland - for an undisclosed sum, believed to be well over £1 million.

Scorpios, the island that Mr Onassis bought for 3.5 million Greek drachmas (£6,600) in 1962, is not being marketed by estate agents. However, Athina Roussel, his granddaughter, is strongly rumoured to have put it up for sale for €300 million (£200 million).

Greece's Star television channel has reported that Scorpios is for sale and Greeks are convinced that Miss Roussel, who lives in Switzerland, has lost interest in the Ionian island where her grandfather, who died in 1975, is buried. Miss Roussel, 19, is the daughter of Christina Onassis, Aristotle's daughter, who died in 1988 aged 37.

Scorpios has 2,965 acres and is entirely private apart from two beaches to which the public - arriving by boat - have access. There are three villas, a chapel, a small marina and a stone jetty.

On the neighbouring island of Levkas, also known as Levkada - less than two miles away - residents were saddened that Scorpios might be sold. Anna Nikodimou, the owner of the Hotel Nirikos in Lefkada town, said: "Every Greek is nervous about this. It simply cannot happen. If she [Miss Roussel] sells, she couldn't return to Greece.

"I met Aristotle Onassis many times before he married Jackie O [the widow of President John F. Kennedy]. He loved Lefkada. Maria Callas sang in the square outside my hotel. Onassis took part in our festivals. He was a wonderful man. He helped this area a great deal. Scorpios is part of our heritage." Chris Krolow, the sales manager for Private Islands Online, a Toronto-based internet estate agency that sells and rents islands worldwide, said: "In terms of Europe, Greece is definitely the place where everyone wants to be.

"We have five Greek islands on our books. Greece has an abundant supply of private islands and the Olympics has created further interest in the country."

Private Islands Online boasts it has an island for sale "for every taste and budget. For many people, there is a special allure to a private island that even the most spectacular waterfront estate cannot begin to match".

The Greek island of Liquia, which is 32 acres in size, is on the market for $800,000 (£444,000). "The island is nicely elevated, and covered in pine, poplar and wildflowers," says the estate agent's website. "The area is a boating paradise."

One of the latest islands to come on the market is 550-acre Rinia in the Aegean Sea, which has an asking price of €2 million (£1.3 million). Another on the market is Arnaki, off the western coast of Greece. It has 11 acres of low-lying land, a shingle beach and extensive olive groves. The asking price is €2.5 million (£1.66 million).

Madonna, who has travelled extensively in the Greek islands, is understood to have been searching for an island to buy since last year. Richard Gere, too, is seeking a private retreat.

However, a word of warning from Mr Krolow: owning an island can be a lonely experience. "It is a great concept and gives you wonderful privacy but it is not for everyone. A month or two on the island every year is usually enough for anyone.

"It can be very isolating, particularly if you can't see the mainland. You can have 'island fever' in the same way you get 'cabin fever'. We recommend that people rent an island before buying it."

By June Field in Athens and Andrew Alderson

This post first appeared on Aristotle Onassis - Αριστοτέλης Ωνάσης, please read the originial post: here

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For sale: the Greek island retreat once owned by Aristotle Onassis. Only the seriously rich need apply


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