“The 99.15m iconic superyacht Christina O is set to appear in the fifth series of Netflix drama The Crown. BOAT steps on board.
Spending $4 million on a yacht in the years of austerity after the Second World War seemed an act of utter frivolity, yet shrewd philosophy underpinned what appeared to be wasteful extravagance by the aptly named Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis. The Canadian war surplus anti-submarine frigate HMCS Stormont, which he bought for its scrap value, $34,000, in 1954, was transformed into Christina O: a pleasure palace that vastly enhanced his status – and wealth – as film stars, politicians, bankers and businessmen answered his invitation to ‘come aboard’. They included Winston Churchill, JF Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Rudolf Nureyev, and no doubt a few of the shadier figures who greased the financial wheels in those days.
What sets Onassis apart from the more patrician yacht owners of the day, who valued their privacy above all else, is that he virtually wrote the manual for today’s superyacht lifestyle. Espadrilled, tanned and always with an eye open beneath his sunglasses to the possibilities of a little publicity, he epitomised the roguish glamour of the mega-rich. Who didn’t aspire to a lifestyle that revolved around beautiful women, yachts and film stars? Yet, as a shrewd businessman, he was among the first to realise the potential of a yacht as a business tool. Who knows how many lucrative doors a few days’ hospitality aboard Christina O opened up for the man who began his career as a refugee from Turkish Anatolia with $250 in his pocket and a ticket to Argentina, where he made his first fortune.
The 99.13 metre Christina was named after his first-born child, who inherited her father’s yacht at his death in 1975. However, with the memories of those carefree days perhaps too poignant, Christina donated her namesake to the Greek government in 1978, and a period of slow deterioration followed. The yacht was rescued in 1999 by an Onassis family friend, John Paul Papanicolaou, who set about restoring her….and now with her 17 staterooms putting her into the exclusive mini-cruise liner market, a role that suits her perfectly. A new ‘Callas stage’ was also constructed and installed around the base of the funnel. All Christina O’s original features still exist. The most preserved areas are the Onassis Suite, the famous Ari’s Bar and the concert room.
To use a Greek word, Christina O was an icon of her time, while the treatment lavished upon her and her guests, past, present and future, should surely guarantee that she remain so.”
From BOAT INTERNATIONAL , October 2021
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The superyacht once owned by Aristotle Onassis is now available to charter