November 2020 | In the first article about Aristoteles Onassis we have presented the career of the legendary Greek tanker king. His approach of anticyclical investing is still relevant today. And we can’t help but notice that the Hamburg shipping company Vogemann follows the same approach when using the capital raised from the Green Ship Token.
Did you know that Aristoteles Onassis was also very active in Germany? The German branch of his empire was even in Hamburg. And it was here that a piece of contemporary history was actually written together with him. We spoke to an eyewitness. But first:
Onassis and his work in Germany
After the Second World War, Onassis contributed significantly to the economic growth of Germany and the success of the German shipyards, as he overwhelmed them with orders. He left at least 300 million Deutsche Mark with the Howaldtswerke in Kiel and Hamburg and the A.G. Weser in Bremen. These included the supertanker Tina Onassis, after his first wife Athina, which was launched in Hamburg in 1953. However, Tina Onassis did not carry the superlative as the largest tanker in the world for long, because just one year later Onassis outdid himself with the next supertanker.
More than half of the German ship production is said to have been dependent on Onassis’ buildings in the 1950s. In addition, he also hired German seamen on a large scale and saved them from unemployment.
He was in Germany correspondingly often. Hamburgers may be familiar with the Villa Beit on sophisticated Harvestehuder Weg, where the famous architect Caesar Pinnau, among others, lent a hand. This was once the headquarters of the German subsidiary of Onassis’ shipping company Olympic Maritime. Aristoteles Onassis himself was often in Hamburg and a regular guest at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten on the Binnenalster.
This legendary photo was also taken in this very luxury hotel. It shows Aristoteles Onassis on the evening of 22 November 1963, to his right is Rudolf Botor, who was the head waiter in charge of all the Grand Hotel’s restaurants at the time.
Botor, now 91 years old, still remembers very clearly how this photo was taken. He describes us on the telephone: “Mr Onassis was called into our switchboard because an important call came in for him. I accompanied him there. On the way back from the switchboard to the banqueting all, Mr Onassis told me about the content of the call with great emotion. The US President John F. Kennedy had been shot. In the same breath he asked me not to talk about it with anyone.
The Hamburger Abendblatt, which published the photo of Onassis and Botor, wrote “These two men knew more”. But the lead did not last long, because the news of Kennedy’s death immediately went around the world and ran across all news tickers. So Onassis’ request quickly became obsolete.
Rudolf Botor, who was later promoted to economic director of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten and worked there as director for special projects until his retirement, often provided Onassis with intensive support as a regular guest over the years. He describes him as a pleasant guest, who, depending on his mood, could sometimes be very open and affectionate, but sometimes also very withdrawn. However, Botor – all Grand Seigneur – is silent about details, even after all these years. Discretion is a matter of honour.
+++ Update: Rudolf Botor passed away in April 2021. We are grateful that we were still able to conduct this interview in 2020 and leave this post in his memory. Au revoir! +++
“Anyone who claims that anything is possible with money only proves that he never had any!”
In addition to Onassis as a approachable hotel guest and skilled businessman, there was also a private individual with a proven preference for jet set and women. But luck was not so kind to him here. The name of one of them – Maria Callas – has already been mentioned. She was the reason for the divorce from his first wife Athina, with whom he had his two children Alexander and Christina. She was also a reason for Onassis’ numerous visits to Hamburg, because he often travelled to their concerts in the Musikhalle (today: Laeiszhalle).
For headlines followed his subsequent marriage to Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy, the widow of his friend and above mentioned US President John F. Kennedy. A marriage, however, which cost more money than it brought joy. She was squandering his money, so Onassis gave her the nickname “Supertanker” because she was more expensive than a ship.
The marriage ended in 1975. But even before Aristoteles Onassis could complete his divorce, he died in Paris on 15 March 1975. The official cause of death was pneumonia. However, the death of his son Alexander in 1973, which he never got over, probably played a major role in this – as did his first wife Athina, who took her own life as early as 1974. Their daughter Christina did not enjoy a long life either. She died in 1988 at the age of 47 after years of drug abuse. Who remains is his granddaughter Athina, who took over the family’s billion-dollar inheritance on her 18th birthday, but as a successful show jumper has no ambitions to carry on her grandfather’s legacy.
Even though the Onassis era is over – you can still take part in the Vogemann era and use the Green Ship Token to participate in the anti-cyclical investment of the Hamburg shipping company. So write your own history! By the way: We also offer direct investments, please contact us.