Crisis: Greece, private islands sold for bargain prices

Owners forced to sell due to high taxes

20 April, 18:09

The Greek island of Skorpios, owned by Athina Onassis The Greek island of Skorpios, owned by Athina Onassis

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS - After a 3-year period without any activities, sales in the exclusive sector of Greek private islands saw a sharp increase. Experts active in this peculiar market, as newspaper Kathimerini recently reported, say that several owners, particularly those who have hired the islands, are trying to get rid of them because of the high taxes that were recently introduced by the government. As a consequence, prices have fallen substantially and owners are willing to give interesting discounts. This is also true in the case of the presumed sale of Oxia, an island that is owned by the Greek-Australian Stamoulis family, to a member of the royal household of Qatar. The island has a surface area of around 500 hectares (half the size of Capri) and was initially put on sale for 6.9 million euros. But the final sale price is said to be less than 5 million euros. The island is situated in the Ionian Sea, 38km from Itaca, the Homeric island of Ulysses.

Part of Oxia falls under the protection of environmental organisation Natura 2000 but the rest of the island is open for tourism development. Another sale, well-informed sources say that about to be concluded, regards the island of Patroclo, just 3km away from Cape Sounion, the beautiful promontory 70km south-east of Athens. Patroclo has a surface area of 260 hectares (half the size of Oxia) but, because of its position near the capital, the airport and the Greek coast (from which it receives drinking water), has an immense potential for tourism development and an official price of 150 million euros. The same sources add that the owner of the island (the Giatrakos family) are currently working together with a Canadian investor and the Greek authorities to find out exactly what part of Patroclo can be developed commercially. But earlier attempts to sell the island failed due to a lack of planning for the island's use and building as well as the presence of several archaeological sites. The Giatrakos family are reportedly doing all they can to solve the existing problems and to find the island a new owner. The sale of another island has also encountered obstacles.

This island, Skorpios, is currently owned by Athina Onassis, granddaughter of the magnate Aristotle who bought it in 1963 for 15 million USD. Aristotle Onassis, his son Alexander and daughter Cristina (mother of Athina) lie buried on the island, which is situated in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Lefkada.

Earlier it was rumoured that Skorpios would sell the island for more than 200 million dollars and that Bill Gates was interested in buying it. In September 2010 Giorgio Armani denied having bought the island for 150 million euros. It is said that Athina Onassis wants to get rid of the island for financial reasons. But well-informed sources told the newspaper that the transaction was difficult because of a clause in the testament of her grandfather that forbids the sale of the island. The clause only allows it to be sold if its maintenance becomes impossible, which the Onassis heir now claims to be the case. Considering these legal complications, Athina's lawyers are now reportedly studying the option of leasing the island to an investor for a period of 99 years. (ANSAmed).

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