Stavros Niarchos

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Stavros Niarchos
Stavros Spyrou Niarchos

(1909-07-03)3 July 1909
Athens, Greece
Died15 April 1996(1996-04-15) (aged 86)
Zürich, Switzerland[1]
Alma materUniversity of Athens
OccupationShipping tycoon
Helen Sporides
(m. 1930; div. 1931)
Melpomene Capparis
(m. 1939; div. 1947)
(m. 1947; div. 1965)
Charlotte Ford
(m. 1965; div. 1967)
(m. 1971; died 1974)

Stavros Spyrou Niarchos (Greek: Σταύρος Σπύρου Νιάρχος, pronounced [ˈstavros ˈspiru 'ɲarxos]; 3 July 1909 – 15 April 1996) was a Greek billionaire shipping tycoon. Starting in 1952, he had the world's biggest supertankers built for his fleet. Propelled by both the Suez Crisis and increasing demand for oil, he and rival Aristotle Onassis became giants in global petroleum shipping.

Niarchos was also a noted thoroughbred horse breeder and racer, several times the leading owner and number one on the French breed list.

Early life[edit]

Niarchos was born in Athens to a wealthy family, son of Spyros Niarchos and his wife, Eugenie Koumantaros, a rich heiress, both born in the village of Vamvakou in the Peloponnese.[2]

His parents were naturalized Americans who had owned a department store in Buffalo, New York, before returning to Greece, three months prior to his birth. They returned to Buffalo for a brief time and the young Stavros attended the Nardin Academy grammar school. They returned permanently to Greece and Stavros studied in the city's best private school before starting university. He studied law at the University of Athens, after which he went to work for his maternal uncles in the Koumantaros family's grain business. During this period, he became involved in shipping by convincing his uncles their firm would be more profitable if it owned its own ships.[3]

Shipping career[edit]

Niarchos 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 settlement to build a new fleet. His most famous asset was the yacht Atlantis, currently known as Issham al Baher[4] after having been gifted to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.[5]

He then 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. In 1952, high-capacity oil supertankers were built for the competing Niarchos and Onassis fleets, who both claimed to own the largest tanker in the world.[6] In 1955, Vickers Armstrongs Shipbuilders Ltd launched the 30,708 GRT[7] SS Spyros Niarchos. Then the world's largest supertanker,[8] it was named after Niarchos' second son, Spyros, born earlier 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.

Personal life[edit]


Niarchos was married five times:

From the late 1970s until his death, he was linked to Princess Firyal of Jordan.[11] He was also said to be linked to Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy.[citation needed]


Niarchos had two daughters and three sons:

  • By his third wife, Eugenia Livanos, whom he never divorced under Greek law:
  • 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.


Niarchos died in 1996, in Zurich. He is buried in the family tomb in the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery in Lausanne. At his death, his fortune was estimated to be worth $12 billion.[12] When Niarchos died, he left 20% of his fortune to a charitable trust to be established in his name and the remainder to his three sons and daughter Maria by his marriage to Greek shipping heiress Eugenia Livanos, a nephew, and a great nephew. He notably excluded from his will Elena Ford, his daughter by his ex-wife Charlotte. She sued the estate in both Swiss and Greek courts for her 1/10th share, estimated to be worth £700 million.[13][12]

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Niarchos began investing in thoroughbred horse racing in the early 1950s and won his first stakes race with Pipe of Peace at the Middle Park Stakes. After leaving the business for roughly two decades he came back in the 1970s and eventually put together a highly successful stable of racehorses that competed in France and the UK.[14] He 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.[15] Niarchos was the leading owner in France twice (1983, 1984) and topped the breeders' list there three times (1989, 1993, 1994). His prize horses were all trained by François Boutin, whose skill was a vital element of Niarchos' success in the field.[16][17]

After his death in 1996, his daughter Maria Niarchos-Gouazé took charge of racing operations.[18] She too was successful, her colt Bago winning France's most important race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in 2004, and her filly Divine Proportions capturing the 2005 Prix de Diane by winning 9 out of her 10 races until a serious tendon injury cut the horse's racing career short.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Milestones". Time. 29 April 1996.
  2. ^ Sakalis, Alex (12 October 2022). "Greece reborn: reversing the fortunes of a ghostly mountain village". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  3. ^ Ιδρυμα Σταυροσ Σ. Νιαρχοσ [Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation] (in Greek). Archived from the original on 6 November 2004. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  4. ^ "16: Issham al Baher". Yachts International. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Top 20 Classic Yachts". Boat International. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Biggest Tanker". Time. 22 February 1954.
  7. ^ Meare, David. "Tirgoviste and Spyros Niarchos – IMO 5337329". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  8. ^ Corlett 1981, p. 25.
  9. ^ "Tina Niarchos Dead at 45; Wife of Greek Millionaire". The New York Times. 12 October 1974. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b "An International Marriage". Time. 24 December 1965.
  11. ^ Gregorian, Dareh (5 August 2009). "Princess & Plea: Stop Taking Our Dad's Millions!". New York Post. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Celebrity Gossip". Google Groups. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Bearing More Gifts from Golden Greek". 23 October 1997. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  14. ^ Voss, Natalie (14 September 2013). "Keeneland Sales Legends: Stavros Niarchos". Paulick Report. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Haras de Fresnay-le Buffard For Sale By Niarchos Family". Thoroughbred Daily News. 22 February 2023.
  16. ^ Moschos, Michael (18 April 1996). "Obituary: Stavros Niarchos". The Independent. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  17. ^ Thomas, Robert Jr. (18 April 1996). "Stavros Niarchos, Greek Shipping Magnate And the Archrival of Onassis, Is Dead at 86". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Shuback, Alan (23 November 2007). "Niarchos family's saga of success". Daily Racing Forum. Retrieved 19 March 2015.


Further reading[edit]

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