Name Stavros Niarchos
Full Name Stavros Spyros Niarchos
Born 3 July 1909 (1909-07-03) Athens, Greece
Died April 16, 1996, Zurich, Switzerland
Spouse Athina Livanos (m. 1971–1974)
Children Spyros Niarchos, Philip Niarchos, Elena Ford, Constantine Niarchos, Maria Niarchos
Parents Eugenia Koumantaros, Spyros Niarchos Sr.
Grandchildren Stavros Niarchos III, Ines Sophia Niarchos
Similar People Spyros Niarchos, Athina Livanos, Philip Niarchos, Aristotle Onassis, Jessica Hart
Stavros Spyros Niarchos (Greek: Σταύρος Σπύρος Νιάρχος, [ˈstavros ˈspiros 'ɲarxos]; 3 July 1909 – 16 April 1996) was a multi-billionaire Greek shipping tycoon. Starting in 1952, he had the world's biggest supertankers built for his fleet. Propelled by both the Suez Crisis and an increasing demand for oil, he and rival Aristotle Onassis became giants in global petroleum shipping.
Stavros was born in Athens to a wealthy family, son of Spyros Niarchos and his wife, Eugenie Koumantaros, a rich heiress. His great great grand father, Philippos Niarchos, a Greek shipping agent in Valletta, had married a daughter from a noble family in Malta, whose younger offspring had moved to Greece to base themselves in a merchant business from Malta.
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. He 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.
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 after having been gifted to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
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 were, at the time, both claiming to own the largest tanker in the world. In 1955 Vickers Armstrongs Shipbuilders Ltd launched the 30,708 GRT SS Spyros Niarchos. Then the world's largest supertanker, 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.
Niarchos was married five times:
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.
Niarchos had two daughters and three sons:
Niarchos died in 1996, in Zurich. He is buried in the family tomb in Lausanne. At his death his fortune was estimated to be worth in excess of $22 billion. When Niarchos died, he left half his fortune to a charitable trust to be established in his name and the other half 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 Elena Ford his daughter by his ex-wife Charlotte Ford from his will. Elena sued the estate in both Swiss and Greek courts for her 1/10th share estimated to be worth 700 million GBP sterling.
Thoroughbred horse racing
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 United Kingdom. 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. Niarchos was the leading owner in France twice (1983, 1984) and topped the breeders' there list 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.
After his death in 1996, his daughter Maria Niarchos-Gouazé took charge of racing operations. 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.