Niarchos, Stavros Spyros

▪ 1997

      Greek shipping magnate (b. July 3, 1909, Athens, Greece—d. April 15, 1996, Zürich, Switz.), fulfilled the promise of his surname, which means "master of ships," as one of the world's most successful shipping magnates. He founded Niarchos, Ltd., an international shipping company that at one time operated more than 80 tankers worldwide. Niarchos's parents were naturalized U.S. citizens who made their fortune in Buffalo, N.Y. He grew up in the port city of Piraeus, Greece, and earned a law degree from the University of Athens. Family reversals forced him to join a flour-milling operation owned by his uncles. In an effort to cut costs, Niarchos persuaded his uncles to purchase several freighters to transport their grain from Argentina. The venture was a success, and he was able to widen operations to include London and New York. At the start of World War II, he leased his fleet to the Allies and joined the Royal Navy. Most of his fleet was lost, but Niarchos collected $2 million in insurance and proceeded to build an empire. He had a lifelong rivalry with Aristotle Onassis, a struggle that dominated the business world and extended to their personal affairs. Niarchos was married five times, including a union with a former wife of Onassis. Besides controlling the shipping trade, Niarchos invested in stocks, real estate, and race horses and owned an impressive collection of fine art, including the 1585 Pietà by El Greco. He kept residences throughout the world and had his own private island.

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▪ Greek businessman
born July 3, 1909, Athens, Greece
died April 15, 1996, Zürich, Switz.

      Greek shipping magnate and art collector.

      In 1929 Niarchos graduated from the University of Athens in law and began working in his uncle's flour mill. Recognizing the great transportation expense in importing Argentine wheat, Niarchos convinced his family that it would save money if it owned its own ships. Six freighters were bought for $120,000 during the Great Depression, and in 1939 Niarchos branched off to form his own firm, Niarchos Group, in which he owned two tankers and five other vessels.

      While Niarchos served in the Greek navy during World War II, the Allied forces leased his ships, six of which were subsequently sunk in combat. Niarchos used the resulting $2,000,000 of insurance money as capital to expand his fleet and, in particular, to buy oil tankers. His philosophy was to buy and build big, and many of his supertankers set world records in size and carrying capacity. For many years he owned the largest private fleet in the world, some of his keenest competitors being his brother-in-law, Aristotle Onassis, and his father-in-law, Stavros Livanos. At its height his shipping company, Niarchos Ltd., operated more than 80 tankers, though Niarchos later sold off most of this fleet.

      Niarchos also earned a reputation as an art investor and collector. In 1957 he purchased the French Impressionist art collection of the American actor Edward G. Robinson for more than $2,500,000. Although he owned homes in New York, London, Paris, and Athens, he spent much of his time on the Mediterranean Sea aboard his yacht Creole.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Niarchos, Stavros (Spyros) — (3 jul. 1909, Atenas, Grecia–15 abr. 1996, Zurich, Suiza). Magnate naviero griego. Al principio compró barcos para transportar trigo para el molino de su familia. Posteriormente, en 1939, creó su propia empresa de transporte marítimo con la razón …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Niarchos — /nee ahr kohs/; Gk. /nee ahrdd khaws/, n. Stavros Spyros /stahv rddaws spee rddaws/, born 1909, Greek businessman. * * * …   Universalium

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