Title photo: ethnos.gr
About a month after the official announcement of the news that they have purchased the island of Skorpios and the neighbouring islet of Sparti, the family of Russian billionaire Dmitry Ribolovlev visited his new acquisition.
The Russian oligarch and his daughter Ekaterina had arrived by private plane at the airport in Aktio and from there, went to Skorpios by helicopter. They met on the island with representatives of the local authorities in Lefkada and said that they did not intend to develop tourist activity on Skorpios. "They assured us that they would protect the nature and appearance of the area as well as the history of the island and of the Onassis family. They said they wanted Skorpios to be a place where they would relax and meet with friends," Mayor of Lefkada Kostas Aravanis told Ethnos newspaper.
He and his colleagues met with the new owners of Skorpios in the main building on the island. According to him, the oligarch and his daughter are fascinated by the acquisition and Ekaterina Ribolovleva, who is "a normal girl," was especially talkative and was not hiding her enthusiasm.
Mayor of Lefkada Kostas Aravanis and the new owner of Skorpios Ekaterina Ribolovleva, photo: sarc.gr
Everything that was necessary for the formal luncheon had been delivered from the island: fish, a new barbecue, crystal glasses, china plates, aromatic wines of Lefkada. The twenty members of staff had also been hired from the island.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance has asked the Legal Council of State to examine the sale procedures of Skorpios and establish how protected the interests of the Greek state are. According to the official document, which has been submitted to parliament, the question relating to the deal "has been brought to the attention of the Legal Council of State by the competent commission of the department in order to determine whether the interests of the state are threatened and the best way to protect them".
The process has been initiated by a question of New Democracy deputy Yiannis Mihelakis in parliament. He refers to the will of Aristotle Onassis and argues that it clearly states his desire for Skorpios to remain in the hands of his heirs, provided that they are able to cover the cost of its maintenance.
In addition, the will explicitly states that if his heirs are unable to bear these costs, the island should be donated to Olympic Airlines or to the Greek state under specific conditions for its use.
According to Yiannis Mihelakis, the Greek shipping tycoon had firmly stated that if Skorpios was submitted to the airline, children's camps should be built on it. If it was ceded to the state, it must become a place for relaxation of the Greek head of state.
The question that the deputy raised in parliament referred to Article 9 of Aristotle Onassis’ will, which states:
"In connection with the islands of Skorpios and Sparti and the buildings on them: If they can pay the annual maintenance costs, which amount to about 100,000 dollars a year, with their own funds, my daughter and my wife can keep them for their own benefit. Otherwise, I order that they shall be placed at the disposal of Olympic Airlines, which shall use them as a resort for its employees but especially for children's camps under the name of "Alexandros Onassis’ Donation."
This donation does not include the area of 30 acres around the chapel and the grave of my son Alexandros Onassis, which must be preserved as a monument. The donation to Olympic Airlines previously described is subject to the following conditions: the Island of Skorpios must first be submitted to the Greek state and be used as a resort for the head of state on condition that the state takes over its maintenance. If the state accepts this donation, then the Island of Sparti shall be donated to Olympic Airlines to be used as a resort for its employees but especially as a summer camp for their children. If the state refuses to accept the donation of Skorpios, then the two islands - Skorpios and Sparti - will become the property of Olympic Airlines."
According to Yiannis Mihelakis, an essential point in the will of the shipping tycoon is that the only way of transferring the ownership of the island described in it is inheritance or donation, but not sale.