Stavros Niarchos

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Stavros Niarchos
Born Stavros Spyros Niarchos
(1909-07-03)3 July 1909
Athens, Greece
Died 16 April 1996(1996-04-16) (aged 86)
Zürich, Switzerland[1]
Occupation Shipping
Spouse(s) Helen Sporides (m. 1930–31)
Melpomene Capparis (m. 1939–47)
Eugenia Livanos (m. 1947–65)
Charlotte Ford (m. 1965–67)
Athina Livanos (m. 1971–74)[1]
Children Maria Niarchos
Philip Niarchos
Spyros Niarchos
Konstantin Niarchos
Elena Ford

Stavros Spyros Niarchos (Greek: Σταύρος Σπύρος Νιάρχος, Greek pronunciation: [ˈstavros ˈspiros niˈarxos]; 3 July 1909 – 16 April 1996) was a Greek shipping tycoon and multi-billionaire. In 1952, Stavros Niarchos built the biggest supertankers capable of transporting large quantities of oil, and subsequently earned millions of dollars as global demand for his ships increased.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Athens, son of Spyros Niarchos and his wife, Eugenia Koumantaros. His parents were naturalized Americans and had owned a department store in Buffalo, New York before returning to Greece, three months prior to his birth. He studied law at the University of Athens, after which he went to work in the Koumantaros family's grain business.[2] During this period, he became involved in shipping by convincing his relatives that greater profits could be achieved if the firm owned the ships involved.[3]

Shipping successes[edit]

He was a naval officer in World War II, during which time part of the trade fleet he had developed with his uncle was destroyed. He used about two million dollars in insurance money to build a new fleet, and he was the owner of the yacht Atlantis.

Stavros Niarchos founded Niarchos Ltd., an international shipping company that at one time operated more than 80 tankers worldwide. He and Aristotle Onassis were great shipping rivals. The first supertankers capable of transporting large quantities of oil were built in 1952 for the competing Niarchos and Onassis fleets.[citation needed] In 1955 Vickers Armstrongs Shipbuilders Ltd launched for Stavros Niarchos what was then the world's largest supertanker.[4] The 30,708 GRT[5] ship was named SS Spyros Niarchos[4] after Niarchos' second son, Spyros, who was born that year.

In 1956 the Suez Canal Crisis considerably increased the demand for the type of large tonnage ships that Niarchos owned. Business flourished and he became a billionaire.


Niarchos's five marriages produced two daughters: Maria and Elena; and three sons: Philippos, also known as Philippe, Spyros, and the late Konstantin.

  • His first marriage, in 1930, to Helen Sporides, a daughter of Admiral Constantine Sporides, lasted one year.
  • His second marriage was to Melpomene Capparis in 1939, whom he divorced in 1947.[6]
  • His third wife was Eugenia Livanos, a daughter of shipping magnate Stavros G. Livanos. They married in 1947 and divorced in 1965; she died in 1970 at the age of 44, after an overdose of barbiturates.
    • During this marriage he had an affair with Pamela Churchill (later Pamela Harriman).
  • His fourth wife was American automotive heiress and socialite Charlotte Ford (a daughter of Henry Ford II), in Mexico.[6] Their daughter Elena Anne Ford was born six months later. The marriage ended in divorce the following year (1967), whereupon Niarchos returned to his former wife, Eugenia. No remarriage was necessary, since the couple's 1965 Mexican divorce was not recognized in Greece.[7]

From the late 1970s until his death, he was linked to Princess Firyal of Jordan. He was also said to be linked to Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy.

By his third wife Eugenia Livanos, whom he never divorced under Greek law, he had one daughter and three sons:

  • Maria Isabella Niarchos, a breeder of thoroughbreds. Married to Stephane Gouazé. Mother of two children: Artur Gouazé and Maia Gouazé
  • Philippos, also known as Philippe Niarchos, art collector. Married in 1984 to his third wife Victoria Guinness (b. 1960), who is the younger daughter of Patrick Benjamin Guinness (son of Thomas "Loel" Guinness and his first wife, Joan, later wife of Prince Aly Khan and finally Viscountess Camrose) and Baroness Dolores von Fürstenberg-Herdringen. They had four children together: Stavros Niarchos Jr. (b. 1985), Eugenie Niarchos (b. 1986), Theodorakis Niarchos (b. 1991), Electra Niarchos (b. 1995)
  • Spyros (b. 1955) married 1987 (divorced 1999) the Hon. Daphne Guinness (b. 1967), daughter of Jonathan Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne by his second wife Suzanne Lisney, and had issue three children: Nicolas Stavros Niarchos (b. 1989), Alexis Spyros Niarchos (b. 1991) and Ines Niarchos (b. 1995). Spyros is a good friend of Prince Ernst August of Hanover, and was best man at his wedding to Princess Caroline of Monaco.
  • Konstantin, or Constantine Niarchos (1962–1999); married firstly 1987 (divorced) Princess Alessandra Borghese, no issue; married secondly the Brazilian artist Silvia Martin, no issue. He was the first Greek to scale Mt. Everest. At his death of a massive cocaine overdose in 1999, The Independent (UK) reported he had been left one billion dollars as his share of his late father's estate.

By his fourth wife Charlotte Ford,

  • Elena Ford (b. 1966) married firstly 1991 (divorced) to Stanley Jozef Olender, married secondly 1996 Joseph Daniel Rippolone (divorced), with issue.

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Stavros Niarchos began investing in thoroughbred horse racing in the early 1970s when he put together a highly successful stable of racehorses that competed in France and the United Kingdom. He eventually acquired the Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard horse breeding farm in Neuvy-au-Houlme, France and Oak Tree Farm in Lexington, Kentucky where in 1984 he bred his most successful horse, Miesque. Niarchos was the leading owner in France twice (1983, 1984) and topped the breeders' list three times (1989, 1993, 1994).

After his death in 1996, his daughter Maria Niarchos-Gouazé took charge of the racing operations. She continued to build on his success, and in 2004 her colt Bago won France's most important race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and in 2005 her filly Divine Proportions won the Prix de Diane winning 9 out of her 10 races until her racing career finished with a serious tendon injury.

Stavros Niarchos died in 1996, in Zurich. He is buried in the family tomb in Lausanne.


  1. ^ a b Time, 1996. Milestones.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Corlett, Ewan (1981). The Revolution in Merchant Shipping 1950–1980. The Ship. series editor: Basil Greenhill. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office on behalf of the National Maritime Museum. p. 25. ISBN 0-11-290320-7. 
  5. ^ Meare, David. "Tirgoviste and Spyros Niarchos - IMO 5337329". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Time, 1965. An International Marriage.
  7. ^


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