Argentinian Marina Dodero was Christina Onassis’ closest friend. 25 years after the death of the daughter of the iconic Greek billionaire, the woman, who remembers Athina Onassis from early childhood, expresses her dissatisfaction with her decision to sell the island of Skorpios.
In an interview for the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper, Marina Dodero shares her memories of the green island in the azure waters of the Ionian Sea, the Onassis family, her friendship with Christina and the little Athina, who grew up with her children.
The sale of Skorpios
I was shocked when I read the news about the sale of Skorpios. I told myself that it could not be true. I'm still worried even today. Skorpios was, and still is, the symbol of the Onassis family. I cannot believe that Athina has gone so far as to sell the island, where the graves of her relatives are. According to Aristotle Onassis’ last will, the 30 acres on which they are located cannot be sold. But now to go to the grave of her mother, she or any other Greek would have to knock on the door of the Russian. Why is this necessary?
The thought that the island could be sold made me crazy whenever a similar publication appeared. But I kept telling myself that the testimony contains Aristotle Onassis’ last will that cannot be broken.
I did not expect that Athina would do so. I do not know why she has sold it and I still cannot believe it. I just cannot figure out why. The only thing that she does not need is money. The annual maintenance cost of Skorpios is $ 2 million, which is not a large amount if she wanted to keep the graves. Her uncle Alexandros has even been embalmed and his body has been preserved in its full form. I wanted to do the same with her mother's body, but I was not allowed to embalm it here in Argentina. Aristotle’s sister Artemis Garoufalidi is buried on Skorpios too, along with our memories.
Photo: Aristotle Onassis’ funeral in 1975
Athina in the eyes of Christina Onassis’ closest friend
Athina is a very sweet creature, her mother loved her very much. We lived together in Argentina for at least 6 months of the year. My children used to play at home with Athina. I remember how we went to the beach, the games and their joy when they were young. Athina was with us until she was 4 years old.
My daughter Christina is Athina’s godmother. All my children love her very much. After the death of her mother, her father - Thierry Roussel separated her from her family and friends. He had almost estranged her from everything that is Greek and from all that reminded her of her mother, and from the people who loved her. He even hid the photos. He did not want anybody to see her. He did not want her having anything from her mother. But the child was not guilty of anything.
In all cases, Athina would like to be aware of her roots. In the first years after the death of Christina, Thierry Roussel kept in touch with me and often sent letters and postcards. And we saw Athina growing up.
After the birth of his third child, he stopped the correspondence between us and we have lost contact with Athina since then. I cannot believe she does not love Greece, it is a very hard word.
There is no excuse for the actions of Athina
I can justify her position to a certain age because she was pulled away from Greece and her roots. But she is a 29-year-old woman today. She can seek her roots, find out and make a decision alone. I do not know if there are excuses today.
I want to believe inside myself that she took the money from the sale of the island just to help Greece. I could accept that decision only in this way. I.e. that she has sold the island to give all or part of the amount to the country of her grandfather, mother and uncle. It is just this thought that gives me peace. I expect this to happen. I hope she will do so. And if she really wants to escape from the bad karma of the Onassis family, as they say, this is an opportunity to achieve it.
I'm sorry and I hope a hand will "push" her to give the money from the sale of Skorpios and Sparti to the country of her origin. Her grandfather established the cardiology clinic Onassio. Athina has not made the money alone to decide to cut the "umbilical cord" so abruptly.
An island full of memories
I have never had such a great time anywhere else in my life except on Skorpios. Christina and I experienced our greatest joys and sorrows there. I remember Aristotle sitting with Christina, me, Caroline (Kennedy – author’s note), John-John (Kennedy – author’s note) and we would talk for hours. He had turned the island into a paradise. I was 19 when I went there for the first time.
We spent almost the entire summer there every year. What can I remember first ... partying until dawn, endless swimming around the island, jet skiing to Nidri, the kings and the celebrities who continuously visited the island, the beauty of Skorpios. It took us months to relax from the parties that lasted until after midnight. Jackie Kennedy’s son, John-John, loved Skorpios too. The life on it was like magic. This island is a "jewel" for Greece.