Take a look at the glitzy yacht once owned by Jackie O that's been the scene of huge celebrity parties, has 17 cabins, and can now be rented for $100,000 a day

  • The 325-foot yacht formerly owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis can now be rented for $100,000 per day, CNN and Robb Report recently reported.
  • The couple frequently hosted famous guests aboard their ship, including Hollywood stars Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe .
  • Named the Christina O after Aristotle Onassis' daughter, the ship remains one of the only luxury yachts to accommodate a large number of passengers.

Insider Today

Jackie O's yacht can now be yours for a day — if you have $100,000 to drop on it, that is.

According to recent reports from CNN and Robb Report , interested parties can now rent the Christina O, the legendary superyacht that was formerly owned by millionaire shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis and former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis .

With new updates made in 2015 and 2018 , Valef Yachts is now chartering the ship for € 90,000 , ($100,000) per day for the upcoming peak summer months and €80,000 ($90,000) during the low season. Rental also comes with additional fees and deposits for food, fuel, and other amenities.

Read more : Millennial superyacht owners are on the rise — and their preference for experiences over things may be turning yachting into a ride-sharing service

After Onassis' death in 1975 , his daughter — whom the yacht is named after — donated the vessel to the Greek government. The vessel, under the name the Argo, remained in government hands until the late 1990s, when a family friend purchased the ship at an auction, restored it to premium condition, and renamed it the Christina O to honor its history.

The Telegraph reported the ship was "once the most exclusive bar in the world," as the rich and famous gathered there by invitation only. Keep reading for a look inside the Christina O from the stateroom lounges to the outdoor Jacuzzi deck.

Originally a convoy escort called the Stormont, shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis purchased the yacht in 1954.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Onassis purchased the ship for just $34,000 , its scrap value. He then spent $4 million refurbishing the 325-foot vessel and named it the Christina after his daughter.

Until his death in 1975, the Christina served as both Onassis' residence and headquarters.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Onassis made his fortune in the shipping business, eventually owning one of the world's largest fleets . However, the Christina luxury yacht was considered his flagship vessel, as it served as both his office headquarters and as his "floating mansion."

Both Aristotle and Jackie frequently used the ship to entertain an impressive list of guests.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Aristotle and Jackie Onassis married in 1968, a wedding that shocked many fans still mourning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

This list included Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

In addition to celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra , who graced the Christina during the 1970s, politicians such as Sir Winston Churchill and royalty such as Princess Grace of Monaco visited as well.

After Onassis' death, his daughter Christina donated the ship to the Greek government.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Onassis' friend John Paul Papanicolaou bought the vessel at an auction in 1998 .

He spent $50 million restoring the yacht to its former glory and renamed it the Christina O to honor its origins and family history.

Under its new name the Christina O, the vessel remains one of the only ships that can accommodate a large number of passengers.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

It is one of the only superyachts capable of accommodating up to 34 guests overnight — and that's in addition to 38 crew members.

Guests have access to a variety of water toys that are included in the rental price.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Among the water toys included in the rental price of the Christina O are a hoverboard, water skis, and snorkel gear .

But the yacht comes with a serious price tag: Valef Yachts is currently chartering the yacht for € 90,000 , ($100,000) per day for July and August €80,000 ($90,000) during the low season, plus additional fees.

The yacht also boasts several additional watercraft.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The Christina O comes with several personal boats capable of carrying eight guests each, along with several tenders — smaller boats that serve as support to a large vessel , especially when docking is inconvenient or impossible.

When it comes to the yacht's interior, an immaculate spiral staircase leads up to the boat's suites.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The vessel is complete with 17 cabins .

All rooms are equipped with an en suite shower , along with televisions and stereo systems. All but two cabins are convertible from twin to double beds .

The master suite opens up to a private sitting area complete with library shelving.

The yacht has two lounges: the Lapis Lounge and the Callas Lounge.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The Callas Lounge is named after opera singer Marie Callas , with whom Aristotle Onassis had an affair . The pair began a relationship while they were both married. After divorcing their spouses, the relationship continued for several years until Onassis married Jackie Kennedy.

It also features a grand piano and an area for guests to enjoy drinks.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

And then, there's the iconic Ari's Bar.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The bar, named after the late owner, remains well-preserved with its original orca teeth hooks and whale skin stools.

The bar top is made from a sunken Spanish galleon , while the footrests are engraved with scenes from epics "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."

The yacht also features a gym space.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The gym is equipped with treadmills , elliptical bikes, and a free weights.

Along with two massage rooms, the Christina O has a beauty room.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Massage therapists and additional staff help are included in the cost of renting the boat.

In recent years, the yacht has seen several notable updates.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

In 2018, the ship was re-fitted with a new cinema.

Several other upgrades were made in 2018, including new paint, a new swim platform, and updates to the Jacuzzi Deck.

Outside on the deck, guests can enjoy the sunshine.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

The outdoor dining table on the Jacuzzi Deck seats eight guests. Lounge chairs are spread across the extensive sunbathing decks.

The mosaic pool doubles as a dance floor space when covered.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

"The mosaic pool that converts into a dance floor and the famous bar evoke another era and absolute glamour," a PR representative for Valef Yachts told Business Insider.

Additional dining space on the ship means there's room for many guests.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

While the dining room seats 40 , staff can also rearrange the deck furniture for larger gatherings. The Christina O is capable of carrying up to 157 guests while cruising and up to 250 guests while docked .

The ship is specifically outfitted to host large parties.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Today, the Christina O remains one of the few superyachts capable of accommodating up to 34 guests across 17 cabins.

Most yachts — even oversized vessels — rarely accommodate more than 12 people .

On top of that, the yacht can accommodate hundreds for daytime cruising or evening events, such as weddings and private parties.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  • Main content

an image, when javascript is unavailable

  • Motorcycles
  • Car of the Month
  • Destinations
  • Men’s Fashion
  • Watch Collector
  • Art & Collectibles
  • Vacation Homes
  • Celebrity Homes
  • New Construction
  • Home Design
  • Electronics
  • Fine Dining
  • Les Marquables de Martell
  • Mira Villas
  • Panther National
  • Reynolds Lake Oconee
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • 672 Wine Club
  • Sports & Leisure
  • Health & Wellness
  • Best of the Best
  • The Ultimate Gift Guide

You Can Now Rent Jackie and Aristotle Onassis’s Former Yacht for $90,000 a Day

The greek shipping magnate's legendary yacht, which once hosted a-list stars, is now available to charter., max berlinger, max berlinger's most recent stories.

  • Lighter, Looser, and Less Boring: How to Wear the Season’s Coolest Suits
  • What It’s Like to Get a Prenuvo Scan, the Full-Body MRI That Might Just Save Your Life
  • Brunello Cucinelli’s New Glasses Bring the Brand’s Signature Style to Eye Level
  • Share This Article

The Chiristina O in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

In 1954, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis bought a Canadian convoy escort and spent $4 million refurbishing it to his specifications, transforming it into a luxurious vessel fit for a man who made his fortune as the owner of fleets of ships. The yacht, christened the Christina O after his daughter, was a floating palace. Indeed, during the decades that he owned it, the ship became his de facto residence, headquarters, and vacation home, until his death in 1975.

Related Stories

Isa unveils a trio of sleek new superyachts, this new 131-foot superyacht concept brings high architecture to the high seas.

  • Tesla’s Cybertruck Inspired This New Solar-Powered Trailer

The ship was donated by his daughter (now deceased) to the Greek government in 1978 and acquired by a family friend in 1998 who then restored it (additional updates were made in 2015 and 2018). Today, the yacht and a slice of history and glamor that can be yours for the taking—or, more accurately, the renting—for a little under $100,000 a day.

The Christina O at sea.

The Christina O at sea.  Stef Bravin

Valef Yachts is now offering up charters of the luxurious vessel that hosted Jacqueline Kennedy, later to become Onassis’s wife, and a roster of glittering, high-profile A-listers like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Princess Grace of Monaco. A one-night charter on the yacht will cost you €80,000 (or around $90,000) except during the high season (July and August) when that number jumps up to €90,000 (or $101,000).

Aristotle Onassis On His Yacht, the Christina O.

Aristotle Onassis hosting guests, including Jacqueline Kennedy, on his yacht.  Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Of course for that price, this is one supremely luxurious cruise that comes equipped with everything you could imagine and a few things you can’t. The ship itself has been thoughtfully restored, and can accommodate up to 34 people in 17 cabins (but can host 250 for a party or event). It comes with a crew 38 strong, and it features a salt water swimming pool, jacuzzi, library, a fitness lounge (with therapists included), two massage rooms and a beauty parlor, a dance floor, a central atrium, and a bar.

Of course, as one astute legend pointed out, the yacht’s vast amenities were not even its most intoxicating quality:

“I don’t think there is a man or woman on earth who would not be seduced by the pure narcissism shamelessly flaunted on this boat,” Richard Burton famously said. “I have found that to be so.”

Now it’s your turn. 

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the Christina O. in 1975.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on the Christina O. in 1975.  Harry Fox/Shutterstock

Read More On:

More marine.

K Superyacht Concept

Wider Yachts Is Debuting a 92-Foot Hybrid Catamaran at the Venice Boat Show—Here’s a First Look

An orca in the ocean

Killer Whales Sunk a 50-Foot Sailing Yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar

magazine cover

Culinary Masters 2024

MAY 17 - 19 Join us for extraordinary meals from the nation’s brightest culinary minds.

Give the Gift of Luxury

Latest Galleries in Marine

K Superyacht Concept

K Superyacht in Photos

Superyacht Home by Heesen

Meet ‘Home,’ the Sleek 164-Foot Superyacht That Starred in ‘Below Deck’

More from our brands, pride month celebrates its 25th anniversary: the 2024 collections from brands that give back to support lgbtqia+ community, pbr goes live with cbs sports, dr. phil’s merit street media, ‘succession’s’ nicholas braun in talks to join ruben ostlund’s ‘the entertainment system is down’ (exclusive), christie’s website still down hours before evening sales, causing concerns, the best yoga mats for any practice, according to instructors.


Inside the Day That Turned Jacqueline Kennedy Into ‘Jackie O.’

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

W hile Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy was the one married to President John F. Kennedy, many Americans felt married to the idea of the two of them. Their relationship was central to the concept of the Kennedy “Camelot” that is still the object of so much national nostalgia.

So it was that many took the news hard when, nearly five years later after his assassination, the 39-year-old former First Lady felt ready to move on.

She remarried 50 years ago this Saturday, wedding the flamboyant Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle “Ari” Onassis, who claimed to be 62 but had once had a passport that placed him a few years older than that. “Everything, from sugared almonds to the waiting yacht, was ready to celebrate the new life of Mr. and Mrs. Aristotle Onassis,” TIME noted in its coverage of the secret Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. “Everything, that is, except what is known as ‘the world,’ which seemed unable to comprehend or accept the match.”

The magazine explained the level of shock in that Oct. 25, 1968, cover story:

Reaction in the U.S. and abroad ranged from dismay to a kind of shocked ribaldry. JACKIE, HOW COULD YOU? headlined Stockholm’s Expressen . “Nixon has a Greek running mate,” cracked Bob Hope, “and now everyone wants one.” Said a former Kennedy aide: “She’s gone from Prince Charming to Caliban.” In a more sober vein, French Political Commentator André Fontaine wrote in Le Monde : “Jackie, whose staunch courage during John’s funeral made such an impression, now chooses to shock by marrying a man who could be her father and whose career contradicts—rather strongly, to say the least—the liberal spirit that animated President Kennedy.” To most Americans as well, Jackie’s marriage symbolized her goodbye to an era and a hero. “It’s the end of Camelot,” was a common reaction. Many were disturbed that she was marrying out of her church and culture. A certain residual puritanism (and at moments like this its lingering strength becomes most apparent) made many Americans feel that she was entering a frivolous, if not slightly wicked jet-set world. No one could reasonably expect her to remain unmarried, the guardian of the Kennedy legend. But people tend to be fastidious, even ruthless, about their heroes and heroines. The imagination of most Americans would not necessarily have preferred an American but, if a foreigner, something closer to an English aristocrat (many had been rather hopeful about Lord Harlech) or a swinging Prime Minister, like Canada’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Is it anyone’s business? Of course not. The speculation, the gossip, the judgment of new motives may well be seen as rude and a little absurd. They are either too solemn or too shallow. But Jackie Kennedy simply is not a private person who may escape such scrutiny. To few men or women have Americans accorded the concern, sympathy and affection that they extended to her. Few living Americans, for that matter, have been so fervently admired by foreigners. Even before the assassination of the 35th President in 1963, her beauty and style captivated the world—including Charles de Gaulle and Nikita Khrushchev. In the days after Jack Kennedy’s death, millions grieved for the widow whose poise and lonely courage helped carry the U.S. through one of the century’s worst ordeals. Jackie took on a mythic quality in the American mind. She seemed to detest the world’s devouring and often cruel interest in her—but she might well have avoided the public gaze, had she wished, by adopting a different style of life. In choosing “Ari” Onassis, a man of 62 or 68, a divorcee, a centimillionaire little known for generosity or wisdom and very well known for his flamboyant mode of life, Jacqueline Kennedy seemed brusquely to abdicate the throne that Americans had made for her. …Thus, to some degree, the American shock at Jackie’s decision undoubtedly grew from a feeling of rejection. Friends note that she may well feel rejected herself: after Jack’s death, she took strength from Bob Kennedy, only to see him murdered too. “Perhaps she feels she has not been very well treated by America,” says a Kennedyite with poignant understatement.

The nuptials also came as a shock in a more basic sense because of how suddenly the wedding happened.

Even the bride’s mother said it was a surprise, and LIFE magazine quoted her as saying her daughter informed her by calling to ask her if she could get on a plane the very next day. Jackie’s younger sister Lee Radziwill said the engagement was a surprise to her too. She had dated Onassis previously, and the way the news was handled would end up souring their relationship .

However, in the context of the other shocking events of the momentous year that was 1968, covering the wedding, as former Time Inc. publisher James R. Shepley wrote in a note to readers, “offered a pleasant, if hectic, change of pace” for reporters “in a year that has seen more than its share of grim news.”

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of speculation about what exactly drew the two together. Some Kennedy-watchers speculated that she, as a paparazzi target, was attracted to his private security detail. “The idea that he owned a yacht and could just literally sail her away from all of her troubles and take her to this private island, a place where she could just be reclusive, was incredibly appealing,” Tina Cassidy, author of a biography of the former First Lady, Jackie After O, says in the 2017 documentary Jackie: A Tale of Two Sisters . But he also had had his eye on her for a while. Cassidy notes that he was one of the first visitors to the White House after the assassination, arguing, “I think people also believed that Onassis was always looking for an angle with Jackie, and it wasn’t until after Robert Kennedy’s assassination that he felt like he had a window and could put the moves on her.”

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Unfortunately, the pair did not live happily ever after.

As TIME reported in his 1975 obituary, “After the honeymoon, the marriage was filled with what one intimate of Ari’s called ‘the nights of long silences.’ Jackie loved concerts, ballet and theater; Onassis preferred raucous bouzouki music, belly dancers and at times the company of roistering Greek businessmen. Much of the time they lived separate lives.” He was never the same after the sudden death in 1973 of his only son . He expressed the idea that President Kennedy’s death had cursed his wife, and in turn, him, calling her “the witch,” according to TIME’s 1994 obituary for the former First Lady.

But the public, even after the wedding, maintained its soft spot for Jackie. She became “Jackie O.,” a nickname that first appeared in the pages of TIME a few months after the wedding, and the fascination with her life never faded — even when it was impossible to know the exact reason for every little thing going wrong in it. In fact, as a symbol of grace in times of sadness, her personal struggles perhaps in the end made Americans love her even more.

More Must-Reads from TIME

  • The New Face of Doctor Who
  • Putin’s Enemies Are Struggling to Unite
  • Women Say They Were Pressured Into Long-Term Birth Control
  • Scientists Are Finding Out Just How Toxic Your Stuff Is
  • Boredom Makes Us Human
  • John Mulaney Has What Late Night Needs
  • The 100 Most Influential People of 2024
  • Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at [email protected]

In pictures: all aboard iconic superyacht Christina O

Her storied history includes serving in WW2 and hosting Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly’s wedding reception 

  • Newsletter sign up Newsletter

Christina O superyacht

The superyacht Christina O did not start her life on the seas as a playground for the rich and famous. Constructed in 1943 by Montreal-based shipbuilder Canadian Vickers, the 99m Canadian frigate - originally called HMCS Stormont - was first used to serve in the Second World War and was present at the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

Yacht buying guide: all you need to know when purchasing a superyacht Review: Lamborghini takes to the seas

Acquired in 1954 by Aristotle Onassis, it was the Greek billionaire shipping magnate that transformed the Stormont into one of the world’s most luxurious superyachts . Renamed after his daughter, Onassis spent $4m on the refurbishment of a ship that would become an elite and exclusive entertainment destination.

From John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Winston Churchill to Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, who Onassis later married, Christina O hosted some of the world’s most influential people during her glory years. The wedding reception of Monaco’s Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly was also held on board, while legendary Hollywood couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were regular guests.

Today the Christina O can be hired for corporate events and be chartered for private use. Charter prices start from €560,000 (£492,900) a week in low season to €630,000 (£554,700) a week in high season. See morleyyachts.com

‘Greatest yacht of them all’

‘Greatest yacht of them all’

After a number of refits, the ship has been meticulously restored. It can sleep up to 34 guests who can enjoy the same luxury experienced by the famous visitors of yesteryear. Designed to the highest standard, Onassis’s “unique taste is everywhere”, says Boat International magazine. Christina O is regarded by many as the “greatest yacht of them all”.

Swimming pool

Swimming pool

One of the highlights aboard the superyacht is the beautiful swimming pool. Designed with a tiled bull mosaic, the pool can turn into a dance floor at the flip of a switch.

Jacuzzi deck

Jacuzzi deck

Relaxation is the top activity on the Christina O. As well as the Jacuzzi deck (pictured) the ship also has an indoor air-conditioned gym and a spa which offers beauty treatments and massages.

Callas Lounge

Callas Lounge

The surroundings inside the yacht are as plush as the exteriors. The Callas Lounge (pictured) is named after the American-born Greek soprano Maria Callas. Regarded as one of the influential opera singers of the 20th century, it’s said that her “opera notes still play in the Callas Lounge”.

Ari’s Bar

Ari’s Bar

The legendary Ari’s Bar is christened in tribute to Aristotle Onassis himself as “this was one of his favourite places in which to enjoy a drink”, says Yacht Charter Fleet .

The decks

Ranked 56 in the Top 100 Largest Yachts in the World list, Christina O is the “epitome of elegance and luxury”, says Superyachts.com . “Its capacious deck can host up to 250 guests beneath extensive canopies, perfect for a special occasion or one-off corporate incentive.” Other amenities include the Galaxy Bar on the Compass deck and the large Jacuzzi on the Promenade deck.

Onassis’ Suite

Onassis’ Suite

The expansive and luxurious Onassis Suite is situated on the bridge deck and holds a spacious bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and a private en-suite lounge, says Superyachts.com .

Spiral staircase

Spiral staircase

Christina O’s elegant marble-railed spiral staircase covers three decks and at the bottom is the floor depicting Onassis’ Omega emblem.

Sign up for Today's Best Articles in your inbox

A free daily email with the biggest news stories of the day – and the best features from TheWeek.com

Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon. 

Codeword puzzle

Puzzles and Quizzes Issue - May 24, 2024

By The Week US Published 16 May 24

Walt Disney World

Puzzles and Quizzes

A ski chalet at the top of a snowy driveway

The Week Recommends Including homes in Verbier, Haute-Savoie and Monti della Luna

By The Week Staff Published 19 January 24

Round Hill, Jamaica is a cool and stylish holiday destination

The Week Recommends Featuring stylish island resorts, historical properties and wilderness retreats

By The Week UK Last updated 7 May 24

Urner is known as 'the skier's haute route'

The Week Recommends The Urner Haute Route features some of the wildest terrain in the Alps

By The Week UK Last updated 2 January 24

Surfers catch waves on the coastline of Siargao

The Week Recommends Best holidays, adventures and experiences to book in 2024

By The Week UK Last updated 22 April 24


The Week Recommends From husky sleigh rides and tobogganing to searching for Father Christmas on a snowmobile

By The Week UK Published 28 November 23

The island of Grenada from an aeroplane

The Week Recommends Barbados and Grenada offer different perspectives on paradise

By Rebekah Evans, The Week UK Published 13 November 23

Borgo Pignano is an eco-resort located on a 750-acre estate in Tuscany

The Week Recommends Enjoy a retreat-like experience that's as relentlessly authentic as it is luxurious

By Dominic Kocur Published 13 November 23

Finca Cortesin has a world-class championship golf course and a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy

The Week Recommends Pristine golf meets beach and spa paradise at the Solheim Cup host venue

By Alexandra Zagalsky Published 10 November 23

  • Contact Future's experts
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Cookie Policy
  • Advertise With Us

The Week is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site . © Future US, Inc. Full 7th Floor, 130 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.

  • Nautic Shows
  • America’s Cup
  • Classic Yachts
  • Motor Yachts
  • Sailing Yachts
  • Superyachts
  • Yachts News
  • Destinations
  • Yacht Clubs
  • Boat Racing
  • Meta Yachts


Jack Fhillips Leads Three-Year Restoration of JFK and Jackie O’s Presidential Yacht

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of 2020, designer  Jack Fhillips  received the project of the lifetime: a complete restoration of the presidential  Honey Fitz  yacht that is most often associated with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

At the time, the nearly 100-year-old vessel needed an extensive architectural overhaul to save it from “certain demise,” according to Fhillips. Charles Modica, a longtime client and local developer in Palm Beach County, had purchased the run-down ship and was seeking a historical interiors transformation that would replicate the decor of the Kennedy era as closely as possible.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

Preceding Air Force One, presidential yachts (affectionately known as “Floating White Houses”) were important destinations for escaping the “claustrophobic tension” of the Oval Office, Henry Kissinger wrote. They were used for everything from meetings with prominent world leaders to pleasure cruises down the Potomac after a tough day of running a country.

A revolutionary yacht in terms of speed upon its inaugural launch in 1931, the  Honey Fitz  served five consecutive U.S. presidents: Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon, after being originally commissioned for Sewell Avery of Montgomery Ward, one of the most prominent retail behemoths of the day. Though Nixon renamed the boat  Patricia  in honor of his wife, and it has since been renamed and repurposed by various private owners, the ship is best known as  Honey Fitz  in popular culture once JFK took the helm, and Modica sought to restore the vessel to its highest prominence.

john kennedy relaxing

This 1963 photo showcases JFK relaxing on the  Honey Fitz  off of West Palm Beach, near where the vessel resides today.

“After 50 years of practicing, this project was a perfect and natural fit for my firm,” says Fhillips, who has a background in historical preservation as well as interiors, and, as a resident of Palm Beach County, has worked on many private yachts.

The  Honey Fitz  first went through a three-year restoration process that required a complete overhaul of beams, subfloor, decks, and the superstructure of the yacht in line with experts in traditional shipwright methods, wooden yacht craftsmen, historical records, and U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

Fhillips finally got to take the reins with the interiors in January 2023 after combing through archived photographs, footage, and articles written about the ship, alongside the  Honey Fitz ‘s captain and first mate. The team was able to piece together an immaculate interiors refitting and restoration that honors the ship’s most historic (and glamorous) era during the Kennedy administration. Below, you can see a side-by-side view of the ship setting sail in 1961 and today.

uss honey fitz

“We serendipitously located the original company,  Bielecky Brothers , in Queens, New York that Jackie Kennedy sourced for all the rattan furniture on the aft deck,” Fhillips says.

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

To honor the yacht’s storied past, Fhillips says, “We located copies of hand sketches of built-in sofas Jackie Kennedy drew on White House stationary that was recreated by a very talented man, Brad London, of  Total Refit, Inc. “

a room with blue couches and a table

The aft deck not only features recreations of Jackie O.’s original furniture designs, but also period-appropriate elements, such as a black telephone like the one JFK would use for taking calls aboard.

Those sofas are the focal point of the main salon, and the team also recreated the rattan oxbow club chairs, then styled the space with Kennedy family photos that would have been on the ship during the 1960s, as well as other memorabilia. Plenty more Kennedy mementos can be found in the stateroom in a vintage blue leather suitcase.

Modica had an English Regency-era antique dining set that was appropriate of the time that makes a perfect pairing with the LismoreWaterford crystal stemware reminiscent to the pattern gifted to JFK by the People of Ireland. The built-in buffet was rebuilt to its original integrity as well.

a flag on a boat

All of the furniture is covered in  Perennials  fabrics.

“My favorite spot on the boat would have to be the aft deck,” Fhillips says. “It is so historically correct, from the iconic Kennedy captain’s chair to the black telephone JFK used to the left of the chair. The rattan furniture was recreated, and we even located vintage gout stools that were seen in old photographs.”

While the ship has completed its service to our country’s presidents, it’s certain to have a glamorous new era as it enters its next century. The  Honey Fitz  will now serve for use on limited charters and fundraising events, an ever-present reminder of the enduring legacy—and style—of both John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Douglas Hensman


Antigua classic yacht regatta starts this week, les voiles d’antibes, the prestigious gathering for legendary boats, the timeless charm of madiz: one of the oldest yachts in the world, timeless beauties: classic sailing yachts through the ages, restoring winston churchill’s 1936 ‘amazone’ yacht to its former glory, the legacy of the baby bootlegger: a racing boat that revolutionized marine architecture.


Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.


Epic sailing conditions in barcelona for ineos britannia, luna rossa prada pirelli unveils next-gen foils and mast for america’s cup challenge, united states capsizes during bermuda’s practice racing, olympic dreams fulfilled: dramatic conclusions at the last chance regatta, rising tides at palmavela: the provezza’s triumph and a showcase of maritime mastery, cannes yachting festival 2024: showcasing innovation and joy on the french riviera, editor picks, canadian beau lake introduces the tahoe ’14 and lugano ’14 electric runabouts, underwater adventure and exploration with deepflight’s super falcon 3s, driving performance on land and on water: 41′ amg carbon edition, popular posts, young designer of the year 2022: ioana valentina corcodel reveals 65m ophelia concept, mirabaud sailing video of the century: celebrating 2 decades of passion, superyacht the flying fox seized in the dominican republic, popular category.

  • Regatta 823
  • America's Cup 425
  • Motor Yachts 264
  • Boating 216
  • Superyachts 186
  • Sailing 179
  • Yachts News 174
  • Sailing Yachts 165


(Above: Churchill with the ‘terribly irritating’ opera singer Maria Callas on her lover Aristotle Onassis’ yacht, Christina, in 1959)

Churchill was a frequent guest and he didn’t care for the diva Maria Callas.

(Above: Mrs. Aristotle S. Onassis (L), formerly Jacqueline Kennedy, greeting guests on her husband’s yacht ‘Christina O’ during their wedding reception.)

Whether he was in Monaco or at Skorpios, his private Greek island, Onassis’ real home was Christina. His first wife, shipping heiress Tina Livanos, said, “The yacht is his real passion. He is like a housewife fussing over it, constantly looking to see that everything is impeccable.” Impeccable indeed—a crew member once explained, “You could smash up a $20,000 speedboat into pieces and not a word would be said, but spit on the Christina’s deck, and you were out of a job.”

At the time of Onassis’ death in 1975, the ship was turned over to his daughter and only heir, Christina. She donated the vessel to the Greek government for use as the presidential yacht in 1978. Sadly, the Argo (as the Greek government renamed her) was little used and eventually fell into despair.

All was not lost, however. In 1998 John Paul Papanicolaou, a Greek national in the shipping business and an old friend of the Onassis family who had cruised aboard the yacht as a child, secured the yacht at a new government-sponsored auction. He made it his goal to rebuild Christina in a way that would have awed Onassis himself, renaming her Christina O as a tribute.

The elegant yacht.

Proudly embarking on the most extensive refit project ever launched, and using his considerable knowledge and shipping background, Papanicolaou assembled a gifted team of experts. Naval architect Costas Carabelas spearheaded the group. Interior architecture and construction were done by Apostolos Molindris and Decon, respectively. The refit work was executed by Viktor Lenac, a Croatian shipyard.

A major priority was enhancing the physical integrity of the yacht and re-powering her. Upgrading systems and reconfiguring her interior were also key. The initial survey showed that 65 tons of steel in the hull needed to be replaced. When she was put in dry dock, it actually turned out to be 560 tons. Fifty-six miles of new wiring and 140 tons of pipe work were replaced. This large task, along with the refurbishment and redecoration of gathering spaces, was stunningly accomplished in only 16 months, with more than 1.2 million man-hours and at a cost of more than $50 million. Now she was ready for charter and cruises for an exclusive worldwide clientele.

The dining salon.

On the technical front, to improve her efficiency, the original 1943 steam engines and boilers were removed. Two new MAN diesel engines and three MAN gensets were installed. She now has a cruising speed of 18 knots and a top speed of 22—not bad, considering Onassis cruised at 14 knots and could rev her up to 24.

This change opened up a cavernous space in the middle of the yacht the size of a three-story New York brownstone. New accommodations were added. The middle deck now houses a banquet-size, split-level, formal dining room that seats up to 40 guests. Its Baccarat wall lamps are original. As with Onassis, only the best is available: The porcelain service is by Bernardaud of Limoges, Waterford crystal by Rochas, and silverware by Ercuis and St. Hilaire of Paris.

(Left: Jackie Kennedy with her children; going shore the day before her wedding to Onassis.)

Alongside the dining hall is a raised music room with grand piano and a pair of conversation areas. It contains a collection of Maria Callas memorabilia, including the only Gold Record that was ever awarded to her. On the main deck there is a new gym, and for guests in need of a bit more pampering, there is a new massage room and beauty salon. The Italian master Renzo Romagnoli created the new Sports Lounge, featuring Onassis’ original sextant wall lamps and gaming tables with large, comfortable seating. New guest and service elevators were installed for efficient circulation onboard.

Much of the splendor Onassis created has been retained. Spanning her massive stern is the open pool deck where opera diva Maria Callas loved to relax during her tumultuous relationship with Onassis. Its centerpiece is the bronze-bordered pool inlaid with mosaic frescos of ancient Crete. To the delight of the guests, at the push of a button, the bottom raises to the deck level, becoming an instant dance floor. The area has been freshened with glistening varnished handrails and treatments over rich teak decks.

(Above: Ari’s Bar – bar seats covered with the foreskin of a whale!)

“Ari’s Bar,” undoubtedly the most famous spot on the yacht, has been retained. This is where Onassis presented the young John F. Kennedy to Sir Winston Churchill, who was a frequent guest throughout his retirement. Covered by a glass top over a lighted replica of the sea, it has tiny models that display the development of ships and shipping throughout history. On the wall is the original map that showed the daily position of the Onassis fleet. The circular bar was adorned with footrests and handholds of ornately carved and polished whales’ teeth collected by Onassis’ whalers. The stools were covered with the foreskin of a whale, which led to Onassis’ favorite ditty, “Excuse me, Madame, did you know you are sitting on the world’s largest….!” The stools have been recovered in fine leather.

The elegant yacht today.

Aft, the Lapis Lounge remains a central gathering point. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton loved to relax in the sitting room in front of the fireplace, whose mantle was covered in deep-blue lapis lazuli. Its oak and iroko paneling is living with original works of Renoir, Le Corbusier, and de Chirico. Forward on the same deck, past the central atrium and spiral staircase, the original guest staterooms, which Marilyn Monroe, Eva Peron, Greta Garbo, and John Wayne once occupied, have been reconfigured. With Jesurum of Venice, America’s JR Scott, and the UK’s house of Mulberry, the renowned Italian house of Imart oversaw the redesign. Each air-conditioned and soundproofed suite now has a large seating area, bureau, walk-in closet, twin or double beds, and large portholes. The original bathing salons have been replaced with luxurious en-suite marble bathrooms with showers. Each suite is equipped with a full entertainment system with TV, DVD, and CD players. In addition, on the lower aft deck, eight elegant new staterooms have been fitted out, offering the same style and elegance of the original suites.

Outside and aft, the original boat deck has been converted into a spacious “Jacuzzi deck,” complete with alfresco dining facilities, a large circular bar, and a raised sun terrace with spa pool and teak chaise lounges. Farther aft, the plane deck, where Onassis kept his seaplane, is now a helipad.

The main lounge and library.

On the upper deck, Onassis’ private apartment has been refurbished. The sitting room, with its original onyx fireplace, has library shelves, beamed ceiling, and classic armchairs and sofas. It opens to the master bedroom, fitted with a king-size bed, original Baccarat crystal fixtures, brass-framed windows, and delicate linens from Venice. There is also a new en suite Penteli marble bathroom. Forward, there are new captain’s quarters behind the bridge.

Topping the yacht, the huge sundeck is now fitted out with teak sun lounges and a wet bar. On the bow are two specially designed RIBs and PWC, plus a service crane. Aft on the bridge deck are two glistening Hacker tenders and two lifeboats.

Christina O lives up to her legendary past in modern splendor. Somehow, one can’t help but wonder if there is a smile in the heavens from “an old Greek sailor,” satisfied that his legend lives…

(Photos courtesy the JFK Libary)

Popular Articles

RMS Titanic – Photos Talen Onboard On The Last Voyage

May 1, 2024

Coulter’s Steamlined Modern Department Store Miracle Mile Los Angeles

Coulter’s Steamlined Modern Department Store Miracle Mile Los Angeles

April 3, 2024

THE LARK – All-Pullman Sleeper Train – Overnight – San Francisco to Los Angeles

THE LARK – All-Pullman Sleeper Train – Overnight – San Francisco to Los Angeles

April 1, 2024

California’s Old Movie Palaces New Video

California’s Old Movie Palaces New Video

March 12, 2024

Berlin’s Famous Hotel Adlon Five Stars

Berlin’s Famous Hotel Adlon Five Stars

March 1, 2024

Judy Garland Premiere of A Star Is Born

Judy Garland Premiere of A Star Is Born

February 14, 2024

© 2024-2025 Cruise The Past All Rights Reserved.

Any copying or reproduction of images or media herein is strictly prohibited.


  • Refine your search results by reviewing SEARCH TIPS
  • Site tech support provided by Ted Angel

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's Extraordinary Life in Photos

We're taking a look back on the life of an American icon.

Headshot of Charlotte Chilton

Now, as we remember the 60th anniversary of JFK's assassination, we're taking a look back on the remarkable life of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Jackie Bouvier Leading Pony

A young Jaqueline Kennedy (née Bouvier), leading a pony at a Southampton horse show.

White, Photograph, Clothing, Dress, Shoulder, Beauty, Gown, Fashion, Hairstyle, Standing,

Jackie, the daughter of a wealthy New York Stock Broker, at 18 posing for Vogue magazine.

Jaqueline and her sister Lee are photographed after returning from studying in Europe.

More: Lee Radziwill's Life in Pictures

Jackie and her fiancée, John F. Kennedy, play tennis at his family's home in Hyannis Port, MA.

John and Jackie Kennedy at their wedding in Newport, Rhode Island.

Jackie wears her ivory silk wedding gown with a portrait neckline and a ruffled bouffant skirt, which was designed by custom New York City dressmaker Ann Lowe.

JFK says goodbye to Jackie as she leaves their Washington D.C. townhouse to attend classes at the Georgetown University Foreign Service School. The newlyweds relocated to the nation's capitol for John's term as senator.

Jackie poses with her sister, Lee.

Five Kennedy women—Jackie, Patricia Lawford, Ethel Kennedy, Eunice Shriver, and Jean Kennedy—attend a party.

JFK and Jackie relax at home with their first child, Caroline.

Jackie Kennedy at the April in Paris ball in New York City.

Jackie and her husband wave to crowds in Massachusetts during the beginning of his presidential campaign.

Jackie, dressed for summer in a gingham print dress and pearls, relaxes with husband JFK and daughter Caroline.

Jackie hosts reporters and editors for an interview over high tea at their Georgetown home during JFK's campaign in 1960.

Jackie on the campaign trail for her husband Jack's presidential run.

Jackie scrapbooks newspaper clippings with her young daughter, Caroline, while her husband is on the presidential campaign trail.

Jackie joins her husband on-stage in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts the day after he was announced as the President-elect. The future First Lady was nine months pregnant with their son, John F. Kennedy Jr.

Jackie with her newborn son, John F. Kennedy Jr., at his christening in Georgetown.

Jackie Kennedy stands along side her husband at his inauguration.

On the evening of President Kennedy's inauguration, he and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at the inaugural ball at the National Guard Armory in Washington D.C.

@media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-1jdielu:before{margin:0.625rem 0.625rem 0;width:3.5rem;-webkit-filter:invert(17%) sepia(72%) saturate(710%) hue-rotate(181deg) brightness(97%) contrast(97%);filter:invert(17%) sepia(72%) saturate(710%) hue-rotate(181deg) brightness(97%) contrast(97%);height:1.5rem;content:'';display:inline-block;-webkit-transform:scale(-1, 1);-moz-transform:scale(-1, 1);-ms-transform:scale(-1, 1);transform:scale(-1, 1);background-repeat:no-repeat;}.loaded .css-1jdielu:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/townandcountrymag/static/images/diamond-header-design-element.80fb60e.svg);}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-1jdielu:before{margin:0 0.625rem 0.25rem;}} Jackie Kennedy @media(min-width: 40.625rem){.css-128xfoy:before{margin:0.625rem 0.625rem 0;width:3.5rem;-webkit-filter:invert(17%) sepia(72%) saturate(710%) hue-rotate(181deg) brightness(97%) contrast(97%);filter:invert(17%) sepia(72%) saturate(710%) hue-rotate(181deg) brightness(97%) contrast(97%);height:1.5rem;content:'';display:inline-block;background-repeat:no-repeat;}.loaded .css-128xfoy:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/townandcountrymag/static/images/diamond-header-design-element.80fb60e.svg);}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-128xfoy:before{margin:0 0.625rem 0.25rem;}}

jack schlossberg king charles portrait

A New Tiffany Jewelry Exhibit Jackie Would Love

Sighting After Leaving Performance at Alvin Theatre - May 11, 1970

How Lee Radziwill Helped Jackie Kennedy

a wall with many pictures on it

A Guide to the Kennedy Family Tree

jackie kennedy georgetown house

Jackie Kennedy's Two Former DC Homes Are For Sale

John F. Kennedy And Jacqueline Kennedy

A Century's Worth of Kennedy Weddings

Jacqueline Kennedy

Rent Aristotle Onassis's Yacht

jackie kennedy illegal garden

Jackie Kennedy and a Very Illegal Garden

camera girl jackie kennedy

Jackie Kennedy's Life as a Newspaper Reporter

unveiling of mona lisa in washington

Mona Lisa in Washington

bunny mellon jackie kennedy

The True Story of Jackie & Bunny's Friendship

queen elizabeth and jacqueline kennedy

Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth's Relationship

Please use a modern browser to view this website. Some elements might not work as expected when using Internet Explorer.

  • Landing Page
  • Luxury Yacht Vacation Types
  • Corporate Yacht Charter
  • Tailor Made Vacations
  • Luxury Exploration Vacations
  • View All 3617
  • Motor Yachts
  • Sailing Yachts
  • Classic Yachts
  • Catamaran Yachts
  • Filter By Destination
  • More Filters
  • Latest Reviews
  • Charter Special Offers
  • Destination Guides
  • Inspiration & Features
  • Mediterranean Charter Yachts
  • France Charter Yachts
  • Italy Charter Yachts
  • Croatia Charter Yachts
  • Greece Charter Yachts
  • Turkey Charter Yachts
  • Bahamas Charter Yachts
  • Caribbean Charter Yachts
  • Australia Charter Yachts
  • Thailand Charter Yachts
  • Dubai Charter Yachts
  • Destination News
  • New To Fleet
  • Charter Fleet Updates
  • Special Offers
  • Industry News
  • Yacht Shows
  • Corporate Charter
  • Finding a Yacht Broker
  • Charter Preferences
  • Questions & Answers
  • Add my yacht

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  • Yacht Charter Fleet
  • Offers + Last Minute News

Jackie Onassis' superyacht, 99m Christina O, available to charter at a reduced rate

  • Share this on Facebook
  • Share this on X
  • Share via Email

By Katia Damborsky   29 March 2019

Explore Mediterranean hotspots such as the South of France and the Italian Riviera at a reduced rate on board one of the most famous yachts in the global charter fleet: the 99m/325ft superyacht ‘Christina O’ .

It may be many years since Christina O played host to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, but the superyacht still retains all of her Old-World glamour and allure.

Owned by Aristotle and Jackie Onassis (formerly Kennedy), the superyacht promises a yachting vacation in the lap of luxury, as well as allowing you to get closer to a slice of rich and fascinating American history.

Perfectly complementing the glittering cruising grounds of St Tropez and Capri , Christina O is offering an excellent  20% charter rate reduction in the West Mediterranean region throughout May and June.

Approaching megayacht Christina O in a mahogany tender

Launched in 1943 from Canadian Vickers, the motor yacht provides accommodation for an incredible 34 guests in 17 staterooms, including the now-famous ‘Onassis Suite’.

Her interiors share the same timeless elegance as the White House during the Jackie Kennedy era, with infusions of Royal Blue offset by crisp cream, richly polished woods and plush upholstery. Sophisticated and warm, guests will feel both comfortable and impressed by Christina O’s social living spaces.

The piano lounge and bar is sure to prove popular for charter guests looking to enjoy dignified soirees at sea. Meanwhile, a dining room flanked by pillars and gold-gilded oil paintings provides the most beguiling setting for formal meals, and a pair of Michelin-starred chefs will create bespoke menus to satisfy every member of the charter party.

Staircase on megayacht Christina O, with blue and cream colours

Stepping outside onto the main deck aft, the pool is one of the superyacht’s most enviable features. Its depth alone is an impressive feat, but it also features bronze edges, a mosaic-tiled floor, and the capacity to transform into a dancefloor or entertaining area.

Crowning the yacht, the sundeck volunteers a spa pool and selection of lounging areas for making the most out of the Mediterranean's blissful weather. It is situated in close proximity to a bar, for all-day refreshment.

Alfresco area with mosaic pool on megayacht Christina O, with alfresco dining set-up

Her interiors share the same timeless elegance as the White House during the Jackie Kennedy era.

After a long day at sea, guests can take advantage of an indulgent Six Senses Spa, which is complete with a beauty room for the ultimate pampering experience. Families will be pleased to find the motor yacht is equipped with a children’s playroom, ensuring the adults can steal a quiet moment while on charter.

A stellar platform for private yacht charters , Christina O is expected to make an appearance at a number of events in the Mediterranean this year; from the F1 Monaco Grand Prix to the Cannes Film Festival .

Island of Capri with yachts for charter in the background

In order to learn more about this special offer on M/Y CHRISTINA O, please get in touch with your preferred yacht charter broker .

Alternatively, view all superyachts for charter in the Mediterranean .

More Yacht Information

Christina O yacht charter

99m Canadian Vickers 1943 / 2020


View destinations guides, photo galleries & itineraries for areas related to this news article

  • Ligurian Riviera
  • Christina O
  • Canadian Vickers


Special offer on board IDYLLIC for Greece charters

Previous Post

Discount on Italy yacht charters announced on M/Y AURELIA

M/Y SuRi set to attend Australian Superyacht Rendezvous 2019

Superyacht SuRi set to attend Australian Superyacht Rendezvous 2019


Explore the Adriatic on an indulgent Croatia yacht charter with motor yacht KLOBUK

Latest News

Explore the Adriatic on an indulgent Croatia yacht charter with motor yacht KLOBUK

17 May 2024

Experience the ultimate yacht charter in Greece with 43M Overmarine yacht charter HALARA

16 May 2024

Rolling out the red carpet: Superyacht charters attending the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

15 May 2024

  • See All News

Yacht Reviews

O'PARI Yacht Review

  • See All Reviews

O'PARI Yacht Review

Charter Yacht of the week

Join our newsletter

Useful yacht charter news, latest yachts and expert advice, sent out every fortnight.

Please enter a valid e-mail

Thanks for subscribing

Featured Luxury Yachts for Charter

This is a small selection of the global luxury yacht charter fleet, with 3617 motor yachts, sail yachts, explorer yachts and catamarans to choose from including superyachts and megayachts, the world is your oyster. Why search for your ideal yacht charter vacation anywhere else?

Flying Fox yacht charter

136m | Lurssen

from $4,343,000 p/week ♦︎

Ahpo yacht charter

115m | Lurssen

from $2,822,000 p/week ♦︎

O'Ptasia yacht charter

85m | Golden Yachts

from $977,000 p/week ♦︎

Project X yacht charter

88m | Golden Yachts

from $1,194,000 p/week ♦︎

Savannah yacht charter

84m | Feadship

from $1,086,000 p/week ♦︎

Lady S yacht charter

93m | Feadship

from $1,520,000 p/week ♦︎

Maltese Falcon yacht charter

Maltese Falcon

88m | Perini Navi

from $490,000 p/week

Kismet yacht charter

122m | Lurssen

from $3,000,000 p/week

As Featured In

The YachtCharterFleet Difference

YachtCharterFleet makes it easy to find the yacht charter vacation that is right for you. We combine thousands of yacht listings with local destination information, sample itineraries and experiences to deliver the world's most comprehensive yacht charter website.

San Francisco

  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Find us on LinkedIn
  • Add My Yacht
  • Affiliates & Partners

Popular Destinations & Events

  • St Tropez Yacht Charter
  • Monaco Yacht Charter
  • St Barts Yacht Charter
  • Greece Yacht Charter
  • Mykonos Yacht Charter
  • Caribbean Yacht Charter

Featured Charter Yachts

  • Maltese Falcon Yacht Charter
  • Wheels Yacht Charter
  • Victorious Yacht Charter
  • Andrea Yacht Charter
  • Titania Yacht Charter
  • Ahpo Yacht Charter

Receive our latest offers, trends and stories direct to your inbox.

Please enter a valid e-mail.

Thanks for subscribing.

Search for Yachts, Destinations, Events, News... everything related to Luxury Yachts for Charter.

Yachts in your shortlist

clock This article was published more than  5 years ago

‘How could you?’ The day Jackie Kennedy became Jackie Onassis.

On Oct. 20, 1968, the widowed first lady stunned the world when she remarried

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

She was the world’s most beloved widow. And then that widow was gone. Fifty years ago, the world mourned the end of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

“The reaction here is anger, shock and dismay,” declared the New York Times.

“The gods are weeping,” read a quote in The Washington Post.

A German newspaper announced: “America has lost a saint.”

But Mrs. Kennedy hadn’t died. She had only become Mrs. Onassis.

Listen to this story on “Retropod” :

For more forgotten stories from history, subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Amazon Echo | Google Home and more

On Oct. 20, 1968, the former first lady stunned her adoring public by remarrying. Five years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, she donned a wedding dress, entered a candlelit chapel and pronounced “I do” to Aristotle Onassis, a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon. From that moment on, she would forever be “Jackie O.”

The series of events that led her to the altar began long before a shot was fired in Dallas. While the Kennedys were in the White House, Onassis was already one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world. He owned an airline, had amassed a shipping empire, and was a prominent player in the oil, gold and real estate industries. He was also known for his philandering, including an affair with a famous opera singer and, for a time, a rumored tryst with Jackie’s younger sister, Lee Radziwill.

JFK’s last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht

It was Lee who first invited Jackie, one of the youngest first ladies in U.S. history, to take a trip with her on Onassis’s yacht in 1963. Jackie was in the midst of deep depression, caused by the death of her third child, Patrick, who was born prematurely. The president reportedly didn’t like the idea of the trip, fearing it would appear improper. But he relented, despite the grumblings of Congress, in hopes that some time in the Aegean Sea would bring Jackie back to herself.

Though she seemed to recover, tragedy was just ahead. The assassination. The ensuing chaos. The pink Chanel suit, covered in her husband’s blood. That Jackie, just 34, refused to take the suit off — saying “I want them to see what they have done to Jack” — became national lore, a testament to her indomitable strength.

“The country had idolized her, and now the country needed her to hold all people together,” wrote Donald Spoto, one of her many biographers. “Her sense of history, her dignity, and her refusal to think only of herself: it was she who brought order to the chaos.”

But as Jackie transitioned from wife in chief to widow in mourning, as she moved from the White House to the Upper East Side, there was tension between who she had been and who she was allowed to become.

The day John F. Kennedy was killed: How America mourned a fallen president

“Her legion of admirers kept her like a butterfly in amber and never wanted her to do anything that would change their adoration of a brave, bereaved woman who was dedicated to her children,” Spoto wrote.

By some accounts, Onassis was a vulture waiting to swoop in. Journalist Peter Evans’s book “Nemesis: The True Story,” describes a long-running love pentagon and power struggle among Onassis, Jackie, her sister Lee, the president and his brother Robert F. Kennedy. Lee reportedly had an affair with Onassis. Onassis had a business-related grudge against Robert. Robert shared his brother’s disdain for Onassis. And after the president’s death, Robert and Jackie had become increasingly close — some believe suspiciously so. Then in 1968, Robert, too, was assassinated.

Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan.

Within four months, rumors about Jackie’s relationship with Onassis were confirmed.

“Not a single friend thought Jackie should marry Onassis,” Evans wrote. “But now that Bobby was gone, there was no one who could stop her.”

The press speculated that Jackie was interested in Onassis only for his money. But those who witnessed the relationship up close could see why the then-39-year-old Jackie was longing for a partner. Her personal assistant at the time, Kathy McKeon, remembers Jackie frequently asking for her help with odd jobs in the evening hours.

“She always used to have company all the time, and all the sudden it got very quiet,” McKeon said in an interview. “She was by herself at night, and I think she was very lonely. She needed somebody to talk to.”

And she was thinking of her children.

“A lot of people said, ‘Oh, my God, what did she marry that guy for? But he was a good father to John and Caroline,” McKeon remembered. “He would sit with them at the dining room table and ask how was school. He might have been an older man, but he paid attention to them, and they loved him.”

So McKeon found herself on an airplane to Greece, and to the private island of Skorpios, where Jackie and “Ari” would become husband and wife in front of only their closest family and friends.

“She wore a lace-trimmed beige chiffon dress which she had worn earlier this year to a friend’s wedding,” Maxine Cheshire reported on the front page of The Washington Post. “Her shoes were flat-heeled in an attempt to equalize her husband’s shorter stature."

There were no flowers at the ceremony, and the small chapel where they wed was lit only by candlelight. From there, the guests boarded Onassis’s yacht for a floating reception. Pink champagne flowed as reporters on nearby fishing boats tried to get a glimpse of the festivities. Back home, newspapers speculated on whether Jackie would be excommunicated from the Catholic Church for marrying in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, and to a divorced man whose first wife was still living.

Despite the public outcry (Another headline: “Jackie, how could you?”) the former first lady would later say that Aristotle Onassis “Rescued me at a moment when my life was engulfed in shadows.”

Accounts differ on whether their marriage was a happy one. They seemed to maintain independent lives: he jetted off on business ventures while she kept up her social engagements in New York and Cape Cod. But when Onassis was home, Jackie’s assistant Kathy McKeon said, they’d sit together in the evenings, sipping cocktails and snacking on Jiffy Pop.

In 1973, Onassis’s son died in a plane crash. From then on, his health seemed to rapidly deteriorate, and in 1975, he died of respiratory failure.

At 45 years old, Jackie was a widow once again.

In the following years, she became a book editor. She shied away from the press. She met her longtime partner, diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman. But never again would she remarry.

Jackie died in 1994, at the age of 64, a few months after being diagnosed with cancer. When doctors told her they had done all they could, she checked herself out of the hospital and went home to her Fifth Avenue apartment, determined to die away from the public eye.

“She went out with her usual courage and style,” biographer Sarah Bradford wrote in her book “ America’s Queen.”

Jackie was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, just beside her first husband. Her gravestone reads, “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.” But Bradford’s book notes that during the funeral ceremony and burial services, the name “Onassis” was never once mentioned. She was a Kennedy, and that was all that mattered.

Read more Retropolis:

JFK assassination conspiracy theories: The grassy knoll, Umbrella Man, LBJ and Ted Cruz’s dad

He saved JFK’s life during WWII — with the help of an SOS carved on a coconut

Zapruder captured JFK’s assassination in riveting detail. ‘It brought him nothing but heartbreak.’

A busboy held Bobby Kennedy after he was shot. The photo haunted him until his own death this week.

Strippers, surveillance and assassination plots: The wildest JFK Files

jackie kennedy onassis yacht

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories .

  • What Is Cinema?
  • Newsletters

The Complicated Sisterhood of Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill

By Sam Kashner

This image may contain Back Human Person Shorts Clothing Apparel Skin and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Born to dazzle, they were the most famous sisters in the world, the Bouvier girls—Jacqueline and Caroline Lee. Jackie was studious, dark-haired, athletic, and reserved. Lee—three and a half years younger—was light-haired, chubby, mischievous, adventurous. As young girls, they called each other “Jacks” and “Pekes.” “When I was seven and we lived in New York, I ran away,” Lee, now 83 and still stunning, once told Gloria Steinem. “I took my dog and started out across the Brooklyn Bridge…. I didn’t get very far…. It’s rather difficult to run away in your mother’s high heels.”

Image may contain Peel and Text

Raised in a 12-room duplex apartment at 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan, the sisters summered at the family estate, Lasata, on Further Lane in East Hampton. They adored their father, John Vernou Bouvier III, known as “Black Jack” for both his perpetual deep tan and his roguish reputation. A stockbroker and ladies’ man, he resembled Clark Gable so closely that he was often approached by autograph seekers. His relentless womanizing, heavy drinking, and diminishing fortune ended up derailing his marriage, to Janet Lee Bouvier, but he doted on his daughters, encouraging them not only to work hard but to “be the best.”

But there could be only one “best.” Lee loved her older sister, but she found it difficult to live up to Jackie’s accomplishments, such as winning equestrian prizes and earning top grades at Miss Porter’s School for girls, in Farmington, Connecticut. Jackie would grow up to be universally regarded as one of the most beautiful and stylish women in the world, but among those who knew both sisters, Lee was seen as being equally—if not even more—beautiful and stylish, with a keener eye for fashion, color, and design.

When asked if a love of beauty is possibly an inherited trait, Lee answered, “I think there’s a seed. If you do have it, and have the means to live that way, people who love beauty—we’re a tribe, really.”

I visited Lee in her sun-drenched apartment in April during the Greek Independence Day Parade—ironic, given her and her sister Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s connection to the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Lee looked resplendent in tan slacks and a white sweater with a high, ruffled collar, her champagne-­colored hair immaculately upswept into a regal coif. She is still alluring, still sensuous, and she still possesses a marvelous laugh. At one point she donned sunglasses as the sun moved brightly across her beautifully appointed living room.

Her longtime maid, Theresa, who had recently come out of retirement in Florida to help Lee, served us an exquisite luncheon of baked salmon on a small folding table in front of the fireplace. Once Lee accepted the fact that I was indeed doing a story about her, she said, “Please tell me this is not a story about my sister and me. I’m just sick of that! It’s like we’re Siamese twins!”

But it’s difficult to meet Lee and not think of her sister. Looking into her face, one has the uncanny sense of seeing Jackie’s face as well. She shares her sister’s widely set eyes and high cheekbones, although her features are more refined than Jackie’s, her coloring lighter. Truman Capote once described her eyes as “gold-brown like a glass of brandy resting on a table in front of firelight.”

One is struck by the Eastern influences in Lee’s living room, such as the kneeling ceramic camel, inspired, one guesses, by Lee’s celebrated trip to India and Pakistan with Jackie, in 1962. “Taste is an emotion,” Lee once said, and the emotion conveyed in her living room is one of peaceful refuge. As her friend André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large for Vogue, told me, Lee is one who took to heart Diana Vreeland’s famous remark “Elegance is refusal.”

“The lack of clutter, the choices of things to put on the wall,” Talley said, “it’s all done with care and love of that objet, a sense of editing—editing her clothes and editing her friends and editing the menus for dinner. And she edits people. She edits herself. She edits her wardrobe. She edits her life.”

Perhaps the thing Lee has edited most carefully is her relationship with her sister and the Kennedys. “It’s the subject you never bring up,” Talley explained. “I mean, there’s an unspoken rule that if you’re friends with Lee you don’t talk about her sister at all.”

Lee realized early on that her father “favored Jackie…. That was very clear to me, but I didn’t resent it, because I understood he had reason to … she was not only named after him … but she actually looked almost exactly like him, which was a source of great pride to my father,” Lee recalled in her 2000 book, Happy Times.

Travis Kelce Has No Idea Where He Is Right Now, But He Knows Taylor Swift’s Latest Show Was “A Whole ’Nother Level”

By Kase Wickman

In The Apprentice, Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Strong Peer Into the Dark Heart of Donald Trump

By David Canfield

The Cast of Baby Reindeer Speaks Out: “You Have to Practice Self-Preservation”

After a bitter divorce, when Jackie and Lee were 10 and 7 years old, Janet married the unprepossessing but wealthy investment banker Hugh D. Auchincloss. As she had been trained to do by her wealthy, social-climbing father, James Thomas Aloysius Lee, Janet married smartly—at least she did the second time around. Whereas Bouvier’s money had been depleted by a series of bad investments, Auchincloss’s fortune was nourished by Standard Oil. Janet moved with her girls to Merrywood, Auchincloss’s stately Georgian house with terraced gardens overlooking the Potomac River in northern Virginia, and they spent summers at Hammersmith Farm, his sprawling, 50-acre wooded estate in Newport, Rhode Island.

Suddenly thrust into a family with four step-siblings (Auchincloss had a son, Hugh, from his first marriage, to Maya de Chrapovitsky, and a son and daughter, Thomas and Nina, from his second marriage, to Nina Gore, who had a son of her own, Gore Vidal), Jackie and Lee were no longer the center of Janet’s fierce attentions. The late Gore Vidal once described his stepfather as “a magnum of chloroform,” but “Uncle Hughdie,” as Jackie and Lee called him, proved to be a steady husband to Janet and father to the girls. Lee in particular was enchanted by Hammersmith Farm: “To arrive there, as a child … was just a fairy tale,” she once reminisced to The New York Times. “It was good for my imagination.”

Nonetheless, the two girls were aware that they were coming into an established family and unfamiliar circumstances. “They were like little orphans,” the writer and socialite Helen Chavchavadze, who had been in the same class as Lee at Miss Porter’s, told Sally Bedell Smith, for the 2004 book Grace and Power. “Jackie and Lee were very fused, the way sisters are when they haven’t had much security.”

After the divorce Bouvier had moved to a rather small, sunless one-bedroom apartment on East 74th Street. When his daughters visited, he would serve them dinner on a card table, as the dining room had been turned into a tiny bedroom for them. Their father’s reversal of fortune would leave the sisters with a lifelong awareness of their own financial security. According to biographer Sarah Bradford, Jackie once remarked to bandleader Peter Duchin, who had been raised under similar circumstances in the household of New York governor Averell Harriman, “You know, Peter, we both live and do very well in this world of WASPs and old money and society…. But you and I are not really of it.”

The normal sibling rivalry was not diminished in the sisters’ new circumstance, however. At Jackie’s coming-out party, at the Newport clambake club, in August of 1947, Lee found a way to steal Jackie’s thunder by showing up in a daring pink strapless dress sprinkled with rhinestones. (Jackie didn’t seem to mind, and in fact appropriated that dress for another debutante party.)

In their teens each sister developed her own style. Lee, now slimmer and sleeker than her older sister, had more flair. She loved color, and she loved to be noticed. Jackie saw how boys flocked to Lee, admiring her fine-boned features and more feminine shape. (Jackie, though already a beauty, was big-boned and flat-chested.) One thing they did have in common, however, was a soft, whispery way of speaking. Lee’s voice was slightly huskier; Jackie’s had the breathy, little-girl quality of Marilyn Monroe’s, which belied her strong intelligence.

Image may contain Human Person Clothing Shoe Footwear Apparel Tie Accessories Accessory Shorts and Sunglasses

GOING PLACES Jackie, flanked by Lee and industrialist Gianni Agnelli, in Ravello, Italy, 1962.

The Grand Tour

Rather surprisingly, after months of coaxing, Janet agreed to let 18-year-old Lee travel to Europe, in the summer of 1951, with Jackie—who had already lived in Paris, having taken her junior year abroad to study at the Sorbonne. The trip was Lee’s high-school graduation pres­ent, but it had another reason: as a consolation for Jackie after her mother and Uncle Hughdie had made her turn down Vogue ’s Prix de Paris award for an essay she’d written that year. The prize was to spend a year working in Vogue ’s Paris and New York offices.

With 21-year-old Jackie as her sister’s chaperone, and armed with Auchincloss letters of introduction to ambassadors and doyennes throughout Europe, the two young women made their way into the greater world, tootling around in a Hillman Minx.

What could have been more delightful for a pretty young girl in 1951 than to have been let loose in Europe? The two sisters kept a journal of their travels, illustrated with charming drawings and poems. Their reassuring letters to their mother (“We DO sew on all our buttons and wear gloves”) were belied by snapshots showing the girls in St. Mark’s Square dressed in slacks and sandals (Jackie) and a short skirt and ankle-­strap shoes (Lee). “Look at us,” Lee later remarked to The New York Times about the half-century-old photographs. “How did those countries let us in? We look like two criminals arriving off the boat.”

Among their adventures: sneaking into first-class dinner dances on shipboard and Lee’s wardrobe malfunction at a gala reception when her underwear fell down while she was being introduced to an ambassador. On the trip Lee met one of her heroes, the art historian Bernard Berenson, when she and Jackie were invited to drop in on him at I Tatti, his Florentine villa. Thanks in part to Berenson, Lee would have a lifelong fascination with art history, especially Renaissance art. “I felt like I’d met God,” she recalled.

After returning to the States, Jackie took a job, in the fall of 1951, as an “inquiring camera girl” for the Washington Times-Herald for $42.50 per week and managed to interview, among others, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Instead of going to Vassar like Jackie, Lee enrolled at Sarah Lawrence, but dropped out after three terms. More exciting things were in the offing: she worked as a special assistant to Diana Vreeland, fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and she married Michael Temple Canfield, beating her older sister to the altar.

On April 18, 1953, Lee wed the shy, handsome book-publishing scion, whom she had known and dated since she was 15. Auchincloss hosted the wedding reception at his stately Merrywood home, and Jack Bouvier—chastened by and envious of his successor’s wealth—gave away the bride. Auchincloss had slight misgivings about the marriage, though, not because of Lee’s youth at 20 years of age but because “he will never be able to afford her,” he confided to a friend, according to Diana DuBois’s book, In Her Sister’s Shadow.

Michael had been adopted by Cass Canfield, the wealthy and distinguished publisher of Harper & Row (which would become the Kennedys’ publishing house), but he was rumored to be the illegitimate son of the Duke of Kent and Kiki Preston. Kiki was an American adventuress who had first met the duke in Kenya, where reportedly she introduced him to cocaine. As a result of this thrilling rumor, young Michael assumed rather dapper English airs and dress, and—at six feet three inches, blond, and slim—he did cut an elegant figure. Lee later said that one reason she married so young was “I couldn’t wait to be on my own … and he was very bright and super-handsome.” They moved into a tiny penthouse apartment in New York, which Lee delighted in decorating, but soon thereafter the couple decamped to London. Sent abroad to work in Harper & Row’s office there, Canfield was instead approached by the American ambassador, Winthrop Aldrich, to take the position of his special assistant, which quickly won the young American expats entrée to the best of London society.

Truths Universally Acknowledged

By marrying first, Lee had upstaged her older sister, but within two months of catching Lee’s bouquet, Jackie trumped her once more by becoming engaged to the most eligible bachelor in America, the dashing soon-to-be senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. Not only was he extremely handsome, witty, and intelligent, he was very, very rich.

The wedding, held that September 12, was touted in the press as “the social event of 1953.” The gala reception, or­gan­ized by Janet, was in Newport. Once again, Black Jack Bouvier had been invited as father of the bride. After years of disappointment and decline, he no longer cut a dashing figure, and on the big day he sulked half-dressed with a bottle of scotch in his room at the Hotel Viking, where, sadly, he got too drunk to walk his favorite daughter down the aisle. The honor fell to Hughdie Auchincloss.

In London, Lee enjoyed an extraordinary social whirl, but the marriage was not particularly happy. For one thing, Canfield was quite a heavy drinker, and for another, the couple were unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive, according to DuBois. When Jackie visited her sister in London and Canfield asked her how he could hold on to Lee, Jackie answered, “Get more money, Michael.” When he demurred that he already had a good salary, Jackie explained, “No, Michael. I mean real money.” But what finally ended the marriage was Lee’s affair with the émigré aristocrat Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill.

Radziwill’s Polish family had been impoverished by the German invasion. Stas escaped to London at the end of World War II. Virtually penniless, he traded on nothing but his charm, his title (prince), and his wits, marrying a Swiss heiress and eventually earning a fortune in real estate. Bighearted, larger than life, sometimes imperious, he was well liked in London, and by the time Lee met him, he was married to his second wife, the heiress Grace Kolin. James Symington, then an attaché at the American Embassy, recalled in a phone interview the dinner party he gave for the Canfields, the Radziwills, and Lord and Lady Dudley on March 26, 1957. “I remember the date because it was a birthday party for my son. After their divorces, Lee married Radziwill, Grace married Lord Dudley, and Michael married Lady Dudley. It was quite a trio!”

Lee and Stas had their first child and only son, Anthony, less than a year after the wedding, and the marriage allowed her to flourish in a much grander style. She was now living a life that even Jackie might envy, in a handsome house at 4 Buckingham Place (near Buckingham Palace) and a 17th-century bakehouse called Turville Grange, on roughly 50 acres of gardens, stables, and a courtyard, an hour’s drive from London. She worked closely with the set designer Renzo Mongiardino to transform both houses into stunning showplaces.

Jackie was just 31 years old when she moved into the White House, becoming First Lady (a term she never liked, she said, because it always sounded too much like the name of a saddle horse). “They were our happiest years,” Jackie recalled. Kennedy was particularly proud of his wife and sister-in-law. His eyes brightened when he talked of Jackie, and according to photographer Cecil Beaton’s diaries, he once told Lee, “I love her deeply and have done everything for her. I’ve no feeling of letting her down, because I’ve put her foremost in everything.” For the better part of six dec­ades, Lee has remained discreetly silent about her brother-in-law’s conga line of paramours, which included Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Judith Campbell Exner.

The Kennedys were disappointed when Lee and Stas stayed in London and missed Jack’s inauguration because, the previous August, Lee had given premature birth to a second child, Anna Christina “Tina” Radziwill, which had left mother and infant in precarious health.

But there was something else brewing. According to John H. Davis, a Bouvier cousin, in his 1969 book, The Bouviers, Jackie’s “accession to the White House promised to magnify a problem [Lee] had had to cope with for some time, the problem simply of being Jackie’s sister. Although she was abundantly gifted herself … she had often been obscured by the shadow of her sister’s prominence, and now that shadow threatened to eclipse her identity.”

Nonetheless, Jackie’s two and a half years in the White House brought the sisters closer together. Overwhelmed by her new stat­us and responsibilities, Jackie relied on Lee. “She had to travel a lot and liked to have me with her,” Lee recalled in Happy Times. “Apart from mutual affection, I think our strong­est bond was a shared sense of humor.” Lee and Stas made frequent visits to the White House, Lee occupying the Queen’s Bedroom and Stas in the Lincoln Bedroom. The couples spent three happy Christmases in Palm Beach together, with all their children.

Jackie hosted an early dinner dance in the White House for the Radziwills. Both sisters dazzled, Jackie in a white sheath gown and Lee nearly upstaging her in red brocade. Jackie, in fact, often consulted Lee in matters of fashion. Lee was more daring, and more European, in her taste, wearing the French designer Courrèges and smuggling Givenchy dresses into the White House because the president wanted Jackie to wear only American couture. “Lee was the first to be dressed in a Paris couture house, and not Jackie,” Talley explained. “Jackie loves Paris, but she’s as American as a sweater … but she’s not as American as apple pie.”

The fashion designer Ralph Rucci, who became close to Lee in 2000, agrees. “Lee has always been an original. Mrs. Vreeland said that Jacqueline Kennedy released style in this nation. Well, she had a great deal of assistance, and she had the best tutors. But Lee did it on her own. She understands clothes. Lee could put on a coat and will know how to turn her shoulder and her head and her arm and hold the coat so that it’s perfection.”

Image may contain Magazine Human and Person

Lee Radziwill on the cover of the July 14, 1967 issue of LIFE.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

But Jackie’s spectacular success on a trip to Paris in 1961 turned Jackie, not Lee, into an international fashion icon. Kennedy famously introduced himself to the French press as “the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris,” and Time magazine christened Jackie “First Lady of Fashion.” In fact, Lee had been instrumental in selecting Jackie’s Givenchy wardrobe for this defining moment on the world stage.

It was the same story during the sisters’ historic state visit to India and Pakistan, in March 1962, when more than 100,000 people lined the road as Jackie’s motorcade made its way slowly through New Delhi, shouting, “Long live Mrs. Kennedy,” as Lee sat silently beside her.

The sisters even rode a ceremonial camel, where they were perched sidesaddle in sleeveless summer dresses, pearls, and high heels. (One of Lee’s shoes fell off and was lost.) Lee was in front, holding the reins until Jackie ordered, “Hand me the reins, Lee,” according to Secret Service agent Clint Hill’s 2012 book, Mrs. Kennedy and Me , and she did.

The focus of attention was always on Jackie, who became aware of how Lee was being overlooked throughout their trip. Jackie was becoming “the most photographed woman in the world,” Cecil Beaton wrote in his diaries in February of 1968. “She is still the most photogenic person in the world, infinitely more so than her infinitely more beautiful sister, Lee Radziwill.”

What Jackie didn’t know at the time was that Lee’s marriage to Stas was disintegrating. Stas took other lovers but remained devoted to Lee, even admiring her extravagance in spite of himself. “The little girl is very, very small,” he once confided to a friend, according to DuBois. “It is fantastic how much she costs to dress.”

Perhaps the glamour of her sister’s life encouraged Lee to find a way to, if not outdo Jackie, at least match her with a friend as worldly, influential, and charming to women as John Kennedy, but far, far richer: the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Socrates Onassis.

Lee described Onassis to talk-show host Larry King as “magnetic. [He] moved like a potentate, noticing and wanting to be noticed … an habitual cigar in his hand.” His estimated worth was $500 million, equivalent to more than $3 billion today.

When I asked if she had thought about marrying Onassis, she answered, “Who didn’t?”

At the time, Onassis was still involved with the opera diva Maria Callas, though Callas was married and their open affair had created a scandal in Europe. Former V.F. editor in chief Leo Lerman wrote in his diaries that Callas said, “I never disliked Jackie, but I hate Lee. I hate her.” Stas, with world-weary acceptance of his wife’s new relationship, was made a director of Olympic Airways, owned by Onassis.

Many speculated that Onassis’s interest in Lee had been enhanced by her connection to the White House. Jack and Robert Kennedy actively disliked and mistrusted Onassis, and Jack, according to Bedell Smith, told his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, that he considered him little better than “a pirate.” (Onassis had been sued by the U.S. government in 1955 for removing from the U.S. a fleet of ships he had bought and promised to keep here. He ended up paying a $7 million fine.) By the summer of 1963, Onassis’s friendship with Lee was being noticed: Drew Pearson wrote in The Washington Post, “Does the ambitious Greek tycoon hope to become the brother-in-law of the American President?”

Bobby Kennedy regarded Lee’s relationship as “a betrayal of the whole family,” recalled writer Evan Thomas, and Bobby hit upon the idea of luring Lee away from Onassis by asking her to accompany Jack on a European tour to Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and Ireland. Jackie was seven months pregnant and, having already endured one miscarriage, did not want to risk the travel. The trip was another triumph as the president was met by three-fifths of West Berlin’s population when he made his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in the Rudolf Wilde Platz, with Lee, not Jackie, by his side. “It was the most thrilling experience of my life,” Lee later recalled.

Afterward, Lee returned to London and to Greece, where she resumed her relationship with Onassis, though all was not perfect there. “I always thought Ari’s bathing trunks were too tight,” she said. “I told him so. I thought it was vulgar.”

On August 7, 1963, Jackie gave birth to Patrick, who died 39 hours after being born. Lee received the news while cruising the Aegean with Onassis. She flew to Boston to attend Patrick’s funeral and to comfort her sister, who was plunged deeply into grief. Terribly concerned, Lee urged Onassis to invite Jackie aboard the Christina, his 325-foot yacht.

Jackie couldn’t face returning to Washington so soon after the loss of her baby. Concerned about appearances, Jack actually went down on one knee, their friend Martha Bartlett recalled to Sally Bedell Smith, to beg Jackie not to make the trip. But she was determined to go. In his journals, Camelot historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. recalled hearing nasty gossip at a dinner at columnist Stewart Alsop’s about “how terrible it was for Jackie Kennedy to go off on the Onassis yacht.”

What many didn’t know was that Jackie was allowed to go on the cruise as an opportunity to persuade Lee not to marry Onassis, for the sake of the Kennedys, claimed Evan Thomas.

Onassis left the sisters alone for much of the trip, during which they exchanged confidences in their luxurious staterooms. Onassis mostly stayed in his own stateroom, making business calls and dining on lobster thermidor. Four weeks later, Jackie left the cruise, rested and restored to better spirits. As parting gifts, Jackie was given a diamond-and-ruby necklace, and Lee three diamond-studded bracelets. Lee wrote to her brother-in-law that she felt Jackie’s rubies outshone her “dinky little bracelets that Caroline wouldn’t wear to her own birthday party.”

When President Kennedy was assassinated, at 6:30 P.M. London time, November 22, 1963, Lee was at home, at 4 Buckingham Place. She flew to Washington and stayed on in the White House after the funeral. To comfort her sister she left a note on Jackie’s pillow that read, “Good night my darling Jacks—the bravest and noblest of all. L.” But later Lee confided to Cecil Beaton that she “had gone through hell” trying to help her sister: “She’s really more than half round the bend! She can’t sleep at night, she can’t stop thinking about herself and never feeling anything but sorry for herself!”

Jackie even slapped Lee across the face. Lee told Beaton that Jackie was “so jealous of me, but I don’t know if it’s because I have Stas and two children, and I’ve gone my own way and become independent. But she goads me to the extent that I yell back at her and say, ‘Thank heavens, at last I’ve broken away from my parents and from you and everything of that former life.’ ”

Jackie tried putting her life back together, protecting her children and working to burnish the legend of her husband’s brief presidency by conjuring the myth of Camelot. But now it was Lee’s time to shine. She had always hated what had been written about her during the Kennedy years: “It was so limited, so … jet-set, empty, cold, and not true,” she told Steinem in an interview for McCall’s magazine.

“There were so many things I couldn’t do when my brother-in-law was president,” Lee whispered to me in her sun-drenched apartment. “Finally, I’m free.”

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Sunglasses Accessories Accessory Footwear Shoe Bag and Handbag

MISTRESSES OF DISGUISE Lee and Jackie, photographed by Ron Galella, while shopping on Capri, in Italy, 1970.

The Truman Show

In 1964, Jackie bought an apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue, just up from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Robert Kennedy persuaded Stas to buy Lee a duplex at 969 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park, so she would be nearer to Jackie and so her children could spend more time with their cousins.

Lee again turned to Mongiardino to transform the somewhat faded duplex into what many considered the most beautiful showplace in New York, choosing a dramatic, cherry-red velvet for the living room and placing an 18th-century “nursery” painting of a monkey shaking hands with a dog in the dining room. In the hall library she hung Francis Bacon’s 1962 oil painting Figure Turning, which Stas had acquired when he covered the reprobate painter’s gambling debts.

Lee began writing articles on fashion and culture for Ladies’ Home Journal. And when she became friends with Truman Capote, the mischievous, diminutive, and waspish writer, he noticed “her first-class intelligence,” as well as her femininity. “I can’t think of any woman more feminine than Lee Radziwill—not even Audrey Hepburn.”

“Truman fell in love with me,” Radziwill reminisced, elegantly smoking a thin cigarette, a rueful smile playing across her lips. “He thought there was nothing I couldn’t do, and that I must go in the theater and I would be the perfect Tracy Lord,” the heroine of Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story, a role made famous by Katharine Hepburn. “He would arrange it with such taste. He was convinced that I could do this.”

Stas “was violently against” her going on the stage, Lee recalled. “He said, ‘You have everything in life, a perfect life. Why do you want to go out and get criticized?’ ‘Why?’ I said. ‘Because I’ve always wanted to do this.’ ”

Truman became obsessed with showcasing his favorite “swan,” as he called his society women friends, arranging almost every aspect of the production. In light of Lee’s acting inexperience, it was thought best to open for a four-week run in a small theater in Chicago. Lee “was very excited about it. Truman pushed and pushed, in spite of my husband being so against it.” Yves Saint Laurent was brought in to design all of Lee’s costumes. Kenneth was flown in from New York to do her hair, and Truman was on hand to orchestrate the three-ring circus, coaching Lee and calming her nerves while dancing to his favorite rec­ords on a portable phonograph. Doctors kept coming by to give some of the exhausted cast and crew vitamin-B injections, probably the kind made infamous by Dr. Max Jacobson.

“So, all that didn’t help my nerves for opening night,” Lee remembered. Makeup man “George Masters was so excited that Rudolf Nureyev was coming, and Margot Fonteyn, he almost lost his mind. He did dye my hair blond, and he made me a nervous wreck by the time it opened. Then he spent the day on opening night dressing [to impress] Nureyev, in an absolutely snow-white suit. I sat in my dressing room waiting for him, until Rudolf came backstage and just held me in his arms. I was weeping.”

Even though Lee had insisted on using her maiden name in the credits instead of “Princess Radziwill,” the four-week run was sold out, and the first-night audience was studded with the rich and famous. But one famous face failed to appear: Jackie, who was in Ireland at the time. Some have suggested that Jackie’s long trip abroad, coinciding as it did with Lee’s debut in The Philadelphia Story , was Jackie’s polite rebuke of her sister’s latest venture. Could she have been envious? She once told writer Gore Vidal, “I’d love to act. Do you think it’s too late?,” and she’d thought of doing a studio screen test, but the Kennedys wouldn’t allow it. Jackie had become a kind of movie star in her own right, as Vidal later observed: “A silent star of unmade films, her face on every magazine cover almost to the end.” Whatever her true feelings, Jackie sent a pretty little mauve box to Lee on opening night with her wishes for good luck.

When the curtain was raised on the first night of the run, Lee found herself frozen with fear. “I remember so well,” she recalled. “The first scene opened with Tracy trying to write a letter. I could not move [my hand] to the end of the paper. I was totally paralyzed.” Though she looked beautiful in Saint Laurent’s dresses—the audience oohed and aahed after each costume change—she failed to command the stage. She explained to Hollywood columnist Dorothy Manners, “It is difficult for someone raised in my world to learn to express emotion. We are taught early to hide our feelings publicly.” The reviews were mostly bad (LEE LAYS GOLDEN EGG) with a few encouraging notes thrown in (MISS BOUVIER’S BRAVADO SHINES), yet the audience loved it and left the theater raving about her couture.

“I got terrible reviews,” Lee recalled with a small smile, “but I really believe they were written before the play opened.”

Despite the reviews, Life put a radiantly smiling, 34-year-old Lee on its July 14, 1967, cover, for an article titled “The Princess Goes on Stage” (with the pull quote “Girls who have everything are not supposed to do anything”). Diana Vreeland arranged a 10-page fashion story with Lee for the September issue of Vogue, bringing in the celebrated photographer Bert Stern.

Lee made plans to appear in a TV movie, again at Truman’s insistence, in the title role of Laura, in a remake of the 1944 Otto Preminger classic starring Gene Tierney. Filmed in London for the ABC television network, it aired on January 24, 1968. Capote, just coming off his great success with In Cold Blood, was at the height of his fame and influence. He wrote the adaptation, with TV producer and talk-show host David Susskind. Again, it was widely watched, fiercely criticized. One wonders in retrospect, however, if Truman’s urging Lee to jump unprepared into two starring roles was evidence of his conflicted feelings toward “the Principessa.” Ralph Rucci told me, “I think he was in love with her, totally in love with her. And because he couldn’t psychologically handle that, he had to hurt her, which is so twisted and unfortunate.”

Lee was offered other roles in movies and plays, but Stas had had enough. “He said, ‘I’ll never let you see the children,’ so I couldn’t do that,” she recalled. “What a shame, having gone through all that and now not being able to continue. A terrible shame.”

When asked by Gloria Steinem if she had pursued acting to become more famous than her sister, she answered, “Look, I am doing this to be myself, my own person, in a way I feel I’ve never been allowed to be . . . If one wants fame, I can think of easier ways of getting it.”

It was four A.M. in New York on June 5, 1968, shortly after Bobby Kennedy had won the California primary for the Democratic nomination for president, when, according to Cecil Beaton’s diaries, Jackie saw the flashing light on her bedside telephone. It was Stas calling from London. “Isn’t it wonderful!” she said to her brother-in-law when she answered the phone. “He’s won. He’s got California!”

“But how is he?” Stas asked.

“Oh, he’s fine, he’s won.” But Stas again asked how he was, until he finally had to tell Jackie, “He’s been shot!” To the shock and consternation of the world, 42-year-old Robert Kennedy had been shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Once again, Jackie was plunged into grief, but now she was frightened for the safety of her children as well, telling a friend, “They’re killing Kennedys in America.”

Four months later, on October 20, 1968, Jackie married Aristotle Onassis. According to Rucci, she had not told her sister about her secret engagement, though it was leaked to the press. “Onassis told me,” Lee recalled. “He begged me to come to the wedding.” When Lee heard, she was devastated. According to DuBois, she called Capote, saying, “How could she do this to me!” Though she put a brave face on it, saying publicly, “I am very happy to have been at the origin of this marriage, which will, I am certain, bring my sister the happiness she deserves,” it was a staggering blow from which their relationship would never completely recover.

To those who were shocked that Jackie had traded her legacy as America’s Widowed Queen to marry one of the richest men in the world—a short, bullish man reputed to be a pirate and a vulgarian—many observed that Ari was in fact immensely charming, keenly intelligent, with a deep knowledge of Greek mythology and human nature. Gore Vidal wrote, “Ari was more charming and witty than she, and in the glittering European circus, where, to her credit, she did not particularly want to shine, the word was, ‘What on earth does he see in her?’ ”

What he saw in Jackie was the ultimate trophy—world-famous beyond Lee and Maria Callas, in need of his protection, and ennobled by her tragic history. By re-marrying, Jackie would be giving up her income from the Kennedy trust, so, like two heads of state, Jackie, through her representative, the Parisian-­born investment banker André Meyer, and Onassis himself negotiated a dowry of $3 million cash, plus $1 million in trust for each of her children, and $200,000 per year for her in the event of divorce or his death, according to C. David Heymann’s A Woman Named Jackie . They were married in a Greek Orthodox wedding on Skorpios, Ari’s private island west of mainland Greece, which offered complete seclusion among pines, cypresses, and olive trees. Lee came to the wedding.

Jackie and her children may have been well protected in a sun-drenched paradise, but she and her new husband had very little in common. Leo Lerman recorded in his diary, “She will not sit in El Morocco with him and his three or four cigar-smoking Greek chums…. Mrs. K likes ‘intellectuals’—Galbraith, Schlesinger—but this is not why he married her. He wants to display her; she won’t be displayed . . . Onassis is bored with Mrs. K.” A month after the wedding, Onassis returned to his former paramour, Maria Callas, according to Lerman’s diary.

Callas, still furious at having been thrown over for Lee and now for Jackie, tried to evict Onassis when he stripped naked after dinner at her Paris apartment and refused to get dressed. The opera diva called the police, who escorted him out, while she flung open the window, shrieking into the empty Parisian streets, “Shame on you! And on the anniversary of your second wife’s first husband’s death!” (It was November 22, 1968, five years after Kennedy’s assassination.) But she soon took him back, gleefully noting that “Mr. O is in constant torment—Mrs. O has nothing save the name, the fortune, and his wrath.” Onassis evidently complained to Callas about another reason for his marital unhappiness. Theater impresario Larry Kelly told Lerman, “Mrs. Kennedy won’t do it,” referring to Onassis’s Greek proclivities.

Blindsided by Jackie’s marriage, Lee managed, once again, to make a new life for herself. On Skorpios she met Jackie’s friend Peter Beard, the handsome photographer, diarist, adventurer, and wildlife advocate. Also a close friend of Stas’s, he was Kennedy-esque in his boyish charm and appeal to women. (He even had Kennedy hair.) The affair essentially ended her marriage to Stas.

Beard moved in with Lee at her Manhattan apartment, and Lee rented a house belonging to Andy Warhol and film director Paul Morrissey, on a sprawling compound of five houses in Montauk designed by Stanford White. It was Peter who introduced Lee to the Warhol circle. Jackie was as enamored of Peter as Lee was. She had already had the dashing photographer tutor her children in art history. Thus the sisters continued to haunt each other’s love life, “like two trees whose branches kept getting tangled up, their shadows indistinguishable,” observed avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas.

Image may contain Human Person Clothing Apparel Plant Grass Face Pants Smile Female and Vegetation

Lee and Jackie, photographed by Peter Beard in Montauk, New York, 1972.

Cleaning House

Lee threw herself into the liberated 70s with abandon. She appeared on the cover of Warhol’s Interview magazine and hosted Mick Jagger in Montauk. Accompanied by Peter Beard, she joined the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American concert tour. Capote covered the tour for Rolling Stone magazine, with Beard supplying the photographs.

Lee doesn’t dwell on regret, but if she has one, it’s that she wasn’t “brought up to have a métier.” Still determined to carve out her own identity, she launched an interior-­decorating business and began to write a memoir. She made a pilot for her own talk show for CBS, Conversations with Lee Radziwill, in which she interviewed some of her friends—John Kenneth Galbraith, Nureyev, Gloria Steinem, Halston—but it was lost in the hard-news Watergate frenzy of the era.

In the spring of 1972, Lee set out to make a documentary about her childhood in the Hamptons, using her Bouvier aunt, Edith Beale, as the narrator. Peter Beard suggested David and Albert Maysles as “the perfect filmmakers for the proj­ect.” But she soon discovered that her Bouvier aunt and cousin, “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale, were living in squalor in their decaying, 28-room house near Georgica Pond, in East Hampton. Appalled by the dilapidated condition of their once splendid home and gardens—60 cats roamed the filthy corridors—she enlisted Jackie to help save their house from being condemned. Lee recalled in Happy Times that the Maysleses “became so intrigued”—with the eccentric Beales—“they persuaded me to let them control [the movie] completely, making it a film solely on mother and daughter.”

Not surprisingly, what got left out of the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens (which spawned a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and an Emmy Award-­winning HBO movie) is the degree to which Lee spearheaded the rescue mission.

A filmmaker and friend of Lee’s told me that missing from the movie is “incredible footage—Lee with Big and Little Edie. She’s actually cleaning the house. But who got the credit for cleaning up Grey Gardens? Jackie. But it’s Lee actually moving the refrigerator out of the kitchen. And Big Edie’s so excited to have her there. There’s this great part where she’s screaming to someone, ‘Lee! Lee’s here! My niece Lee’s here from Montauk!’ And Lee looks so beautiful.”

Lee’s divorce from Stas became final in 1974. He was heartbroken; his fortunes had dwindled considerably by then, and he had become a rather haunted figure. The following year, Onassis initiated divorce proceedings against Jackie. On March 15, 1975, however, before their divorce could move forward, he died in Paris; he was buried on Skorpios shortly thereafter. Jackie was in New York at the time of his death. It would take nearly two years before a settlement was finally reached with Ari’s daughter, Christina: $20 million in cash to Jackie and another $6 million to cover inheritance taxes, according to Heymann.

In 1993, Lee’s son, Anthony, became engaged to Carole Ann DiFalco, whom he had met while both were working as producers at ABC News in New York. Carole, an intelligent, coltish woman from a colorful, blue-collar Italian family in upstate New York, is currently a reality-TV star on The Real Housewives of New York City. “I have to correct people when they say, ‘Oh, you’re married into the Kennedy family,’ ” she told me. “ ‘No, I married into the Radziwill family.’ It was a point of honor for me.”

Lee was in her 50s when Carole met her, and she often invited Anthony and his fiancée to her house in the Hamptons for Sunday lunches. Lee, Carole said, “was always gracious, even to her ex-lovers. She has that feminine quality that’s hard to put your finger on. Men just fell at her feet. There is an elegant casualness that I don’t think I’ve seen since.”

Anthony and Carole were married in 1994, but in a cruel twist to a fairy-tale romance, the five years of their marriage were spent in multiple surgeries and agonizing treatments for Anthony’s cancer, which had been diagnosed in 1990 and which recurred just after their wedding. Carole recounted her years spent as Anthony’s wife and a close friend of Carolyn Bessette and John Kennedy Jr.’s in a searing 2005 book, What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love.

In June 1976, Stas Radziwill died of a heart attack, just 62 years of age, during a weekend party in Essex, En­gland. On his death, it was discovered that his estate was essentially bankrupt, with nothing to leave to his children. Five months later, in November of 1976, Hugh D. Auchincloss, once referred to as “the first gentleman of New York,” died from emphysema, having lost most of his fortune.

Earlier, Lee had sorted through old diaries and letters in the attic of her childhood home. She was still hoping to use what she found to write her memoir. That’s when she discovered “One Special Summer,” the sweet, funny, girlish account she and Jackie had made of their first trip to Europe, in 1951, a lifetime ago. It had survived as an artifact, a testament to how close the sisters had once been, poised to make their marks on the world stage. Lee and Jackie agreed that they should publish it, just as it was.

In 1979, with her romance with Peter Beard long over, and after relationships with the lawyer Peter Tufo and the architect Richard Meier, Lee came close to being married for a third time, to Newton Cope, a successful San Francisco hotelier. But just prior to the wedding, Cope suddenly pulled out. Apparently, Jackie was behind the dashed plans. Cope told Bradford that Jackie had her lawyer privately contact him and suggest that he settle $15,000 per month on Lee as a prenuptial. “I don’t think Lee would have thought of something like that,” Cope recalled to DuBois. “She wasn’t as money-hungry as Jackie was. Lee wanted to be taken care of, yes, but I don’t think she would connive in that way.”

Cope ended up feeling manipulated and bullied, according to DuBois, telling Jackie’s lawyer, “I am not buying a cow or a celebrity the way Onassis did! I am in love with this woman!” Cope, too, was surprised to see how Lee was intimidated by her big sister. “Why the hell are you so afraid of your sister?,” Cope asked her one night after leaving a dinner party Jackie had given in honor of the couple. He later said, “It’s too bad Lee couldn’t get away from that sister of hers. Being just a few blocks away, it was like an unhealthy bond she couldn’t escape from.”

By now Jackie was a rich woman; the inheritance from Onassis had grown to $150 million, under the astute guidance of her trusted friend and new companion, Belgian-­American businessman and diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman. In addition, she also reportedly owned an estimated $40 million worth of art, antiques, jewelry, and real estate. Lee was still struggling, and in 1979 she sold her Fifth Avenue duplex and bought a much smaller penthouse two blocks away, at 875 Park. Later, she would sell that apartment and be reduced to renting or buying even smaller apartments. She sold the Francis Bacon painting at Sotheby’s for $200,000, just before the booming 1980s art market; within a couple of years the painting was worth millions. Like Lily Bart in Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, Lee was facing the prospect of a slow and steady fall.

The End of an Era

Jackie was relieved, then, when Lee married the filmmaker Herbert Ross ( Footloose, Steel Magnolias ) on September 23, 1988, and she hosted a dinner for the couple at her Fifth Avenue apartment. According to Bradford, she told a friend, “I’m happy for Lee, because between you and me Lee has stared into the jaws of hell.” The Brooklyn-born Ross, who had started his professional life as a dancer and choreographer, was witty, expansive, and warm. Though their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, and many believed that Ross was bisexual, at last Lee seemed to have found both security and love, and in photographs with Ross she looks radiantly happy.

In early 1994, Jackie, then 64, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, and in a few short months it invaded her liver, spinal cord, and brain. With hundreds keeping vigil outside her building, she died at her home at 1040 Fifth Avenue, surrounded by her family, on May 19, 1994, Black Jack Bouvier’s birthday. On her deathbed, according to Bradford, she advised her children to “sell everything. You’ll make a lot of money.” The auction, at Sotheby’s in 1996, reportedly netted more than $34 million.

When she’d first heard of Jackie’s illness, Lee rushed to her sister’s side. At Jackie’s death, she wept inconsolably.

But Jackie would leave a final reproach in her will, which transferred much of her holdings to her children, with substantial cash bequests and valuable mementos to family, friends, and employees—helping everyone, it seemed, except Lee, because “I have already done so during my lifetime.” Although the will set up $500,000 trust funds for Tina and Anthony, not even a memento was left for her sister. Lee must have been deeply hurt.

On July 16, 1999, John Kennedy Jr., his stunning young wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, were killed when John, a novice pilot, became disoriented on their way to a family wedding in Hyannis Port. Soon after, Lee and Stas’s son, Anthony, succumbed to cancer. Lee’s marriage to Ross didn’t survive, and they divorced in 2001. Through everything, Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross has managed to endure. Perhaps that has been her greatest gift after all: to survive, and to do so with grace and courage. “Did you see that small, fifth-century Roman head over the mantel?,” Rucci asked me. “She’s had it in her life for many, many years. It’s one of her favorite things because it looks like her son, Anthony, and that’s why it gives her comfort.”

Until recently, she divided her time between New York and her Paris pied-à-terre, on the Avenue Montaigne, though she admitted that Paris, too, has changed. “There’s a McDonald’s in the Louvre,” she exclaimed. She dines with longtime friends, such as designer Carolina Herrera and her husband, Reinaldo, a V.F. contributing editor; Peter Beard and his wife, Nejma; designer Marc Jacobs; interior designer Nicky Haslam; filmmaker Sofia Coppola; and her closest friend and confidant, Hamilton South.

When I visited her in April, Lee was in a philosophical state of mind. The lease on her Paris apartment, a place she loves, was due to lapse in October. When I suggested that they should pay her to live there, she answered, “Yes, they should. But they won’t.”

“I feel like I’m in my own world, in the world but not a part of it.” Lee no longer goes to the movies, which she used to love, because she feels that contemporary films lack both romance and mystery. She finds going to the ballet or theater “such a chore now—they go through your handbag looking for bombs.” One thing she would like to do, however, is visit Mantua “to say good-bye to a favorite Rubens. I’d like to go this summer to say good-bye, but it will be so crowded, and I’d like to go with someone who knows more about the art. If only it could be Bernard Berenson!”

“It’s so close to the end,” she added, “closer than life is. I think you know what I mean.”

To read more from Vanity Fair ’s Sisters Issue, click here.

The Glamorous Life of Lee Radziwill

This image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Suit Coat Overcoat Tie Accessories Accessory Robe and Fashion

Sam Kashner

Royal watch.

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement and Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement . This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The Glamorous Life of Lee Radziwill

By Isabel Ashton

Jackie Kennedy in New York City: Images of Fashion and Family

By Jonathan Pace, Chris Rovzar, and Jeremy Megraw

The Untold Jackie Kennedy Stories

By Doug Stumpf

A Brief History of Clarence House, King Charles’s True Home

By Hadley Hall Meares


  1. Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis Christina O Yacht Available for

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  2. Superyacht Aristotle Onassis wooed Jackie O, up for sale

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  3. Kennedy On Yacht Photos and Premium High Res Pictures

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  4. Inside Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis' former yacht, renting at $627,505 a week

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  5. Aristotle and Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ Yacht Available for Charter

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht

  6. Jackie O's yacht: 325-foot luxury yacht can be rented for $100k a day

    jackie kennedy onassis yacht



  2. Sen. Kennedy returns from sailing, Aug. 7 2009

  3. December 20, 1968

  4. The Christina O super yacht filmed leaving London docks

  5. Jackie Kennedy Onassis's Most Iconic Style Moments

  6. Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House


  1. Vintage Photos Show What Parties on Jackie O's Iconic Yacht Were Like

    Vintage photos show what it was like to party alongside celebs, royals, and politicians on Jackie and Aristotle Onassis' iconic yacht in its glamorous heyday. Marissa Perino. Apr 3, 2019, 9:08 AM ...

  2. Christina O

    Christina O is a private motor yacht that once belonged to billionaire Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis. At 99.13 metres long, she was the 59th largest yacht in the world as of 2022. At 99.13 metres long, she was the 59th largest yacht in the world as of 2022.

  3. Jackie O's Yacht: 325-Foot Luxury Yacht Can Be Rented for $100k a Day

    Stef Bravin. The 325-foot yacht formerly owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis can now be rented for $100,000 per day, CNN and Robb ...

  4. Christina O: what happened to Aristotle Onassis' 99m superyacht?

    In 1959, Onassis invited aboard Sir Winston Churchill, opera singer Maria Callas (soon to become Onassis's mistress), John F Kennedy and Kennedy's wife, Jackie (later to become Onassis's wife). Upon his death 16 years later, he left the boat to Jackie and his daughter, Christina, providing for $500,000 in annual upkeep of the vessel.

  5. Meet 'Christina O,' an Historic Yacht That Hosted JFK and Churchill

    John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill had their first encounter on the yacht. Britain's wartime Prime Minister enjoyed eight voyages between 1958 and 1965 and was the only guest for whom Onassis ...

  6. Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis's Yacht, the Christina O, Is

    Aristotle Onassis 's iconic yacht, the "Christina O"—a favorite haunt of midcentury luminaries, including Winston Churchill, John Wayne, and Marilyn Monroe—can now be yours for a week. Charter ...

  7. A Closer Look: Jackie Onassis' Yacht Christina

    A Closer Look: Jackie Onassis' Yacht Christina | Cultured EleganceIn this video, we will explore the Yacht Christina which belonged to Aristotle Onassis.Toge...

  8. Jackie and Aristotle Onassis's Former Yacht Is Now Available to Rent

    Valef Yachts is now offering up charters of the luxurious vessel that hosted Jacqueline Kennedy, later to become Onassis's wife, and a roster of glittering, high-profile A-listers like Marilyn ...

  9. Rent Jackie and Aristotle Onassis' former yacht

    Jackie and Aristotle Onassis helped set the tone for glamor in the late '60s, and their yacht was a big part of the image. Now you can rent their former yacht from a charter company in Greece ...

  10. Inside Jackie Kennedy's Wedding to Aristotle Onassis: Photos

    7 minute read. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, embracing her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her new husband, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis at their wedding reception aboard the yacht ...

  11. In pictures: all aboard iconic superyacht Christina O

    Designed to the highest standard, Onassis's "unique taste is everywhere", says Boat International magazine. Christina O is regarded by many as the "greatest yacht of them all".

  12. Sail Through History: Exploring the Restored Presidential Yacht of JFK

    Jack Fhillips Leads Three-Year Restoration of JFK and Jackie O's Presidential Yacht. Amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of 2020, designer Jack Fhillips received the project of the lifetime: a complete restoration of the presidential Honey Fitz yacht that is most often associated with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. At the time, the nearly 100-year-old vessel needed an extensive ...

  13. Catching Jackie with Aristotle Onassis

    By Ellen Otzen. BBC World Service. When rumours emerged that Aristotle Onassis was romantically involved with Jackie Kennedy, a young Greek journalist sneaked on to the shipping magnate's yacht to ...

  14. October 13, 1963

    First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and sister Lee Radziwill leaving Greece after Vacation on Aristotle Onassis's Yacht in Greece. They flew to Marrakech, Morocco ...

  15. Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill, Maria Callas

    ) When Onassis bought the yacht in 1954, he converted the yacht at an expense of over $4 million, into the largest, most modern and most exalted yacht of her era. CHRISTINA O became his floating mansion and headquarters for over two decades until his death in 1975.

  16. Jackie Kennedy Onassis' former yacht for rent for six figures a week

    For 560,000 euro (approximately $627,505) a week, guests can charter the "Christina O," a yacht once owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Valef ...

  17. Iconic Jackie Kennedy Pictures

    Beyond her life as a Kennedy, Jackie reinvented herself in her second marriage to Aristotle Onassis in 1968, and later embarked on her second chapter as a book editor in New York before she passed ...

  18. Jackie Onassis' superyacht, 99m Christina O ...

    Launched in 1943 from Canadian Vickers, the motor yacht provides accommodation for an incredible 34 guests in 17 staterooms, including the now-famous 'Onassis Suite'.. Her interiors share the same timeless elegance as the White House during the Jackie Kennedy era, with infusions of Royal Blue offset by crisp cream, richly polished woods and plush upholstery.

  19. Jackie Kennedy: JFK's widow married Aristotle Onassis 50 years ago

    The day Jackie Kennedy became Jackie Onassis. On Oct. 20, 1968, the widowed first lady stunned the world when she remarried ... to take a trip with her on Onassis's yacht in 1963. Jackie was in ...

  20. A Look Back at the Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy Wedding

    Kennedy met Onassis in 1963. Jackie first met Onassis during her 1963 fall vacation, when she was invited to spend time on Onassis' yacht; the Christina by her younger sister, Lee Radziwill, who was herself allegedly intimately involved with Onassis.. After the death of her prematurely born son, Patrick, in the summer of 1963, Jackie had become very depressed, and her sister thought a trip ...

  21. Aristotle and Jackie Kennedy Onassis' Yacht Available for Charter

    The 325-foot yacht once owned by Aristotle Onassis, shipping magnate and Jackie Kennedy Onassis's second husband, is available for charter for €80,000 a day (US$90,290) from Valef Yachts. In ...

  22. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

    Jacqueline "Jackie" Lee Kennedy Onassis (née Bouvier / ˈ b uː v i eɪ /; July 28, 1929 - May 19, 1994) was an American writer, book editor, and socialite who served as the first lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963, as the wife of President John F. Kennedy.A popular first lady, she endeared the American public with her devotion to her family, dedication to the historic preservation ...

  23. Oline Eaton on Her Book "Finding Jackie" and Jackie Kennedy Onassis's

    The Christina O, Aristotle Onassis's yacht, is remembered as Jackie O's fabulous hangout. In reality, the former First Lady gave the shabby boat the air of glamour. By Oline Eaton. February 15, 2023. Reading Time: 5 minutes. T here was a moment aboard the Christina O that felt almost mystical.

  24. The Complicated Sisterhood of Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill

    Terribly concerned, Lee urged Onassis to invite Jackie aboard the Christina, his 325-foot yacht. Jackie couldn't face returning to Washington so soon after the loss of her baby.