Christina Onassis Takes An Ionian Plunge into Food and Song to Help Ease Her Troubles

updated 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Life for Christina Onassis seems to consist of an unending stream of disastrous love affairs, depression and drachma-squabbles with the Greek government. But for three blissfully forgetful weeks this summer, she was just another tourist island-hopping in the Ionian Sea—with, of course, her own 80-foot yacht and a 20-member entourage. Determined to leave her more weighty problems behind, Onassis led new and old friends on a series of dusk-to-dawn parties that began on her private island of Skorpios and continued on Cephalonia, Leukas, Antipaxoi and, most memorably, Corfu—where she and fellow revelers sang Greek songs and sprayed each other with champagne at the famous Philippas tavern. Late in the evening, on a tabletop she gamely attempted a belly dance with the tavern's owner. "Does she know how to dance?" he was later asked. "Even bears can dance," he replied. "Why not her?" Throughout the memorable trip, said an admiring friend: "She transformed night into day and day into night."

Day for Night, a French cineast might indeed have dubbed Christina's sybaritic binge—but a more appropriate title could have been La Grande Bouffe. "She ate all the time she could lay her hands on food," said one of her visitors. That did not prove difficult, since Christina had brought along a cordon bleu chef who practiced his art on Skorpios in a home kitchen "so big it can prepare food for 200 people." Besides meals, Christina downed finger sandwiches, pastries, candies and Coca-Cola all day long. Though observers estimate Onassis had ballooned to more than 200 pounds, she water-skied, swam and wandered the deck of her yacht, Alexandros, in a turquoise bikini, seemingly oblivious to her appearance.

Despite the festivities, however, Onassis' legendary moodiness sometimes asserted itself, often touched off by trivial incidents. The loss of a cassette for her mini-recorder, for instance, threw her into a violent rage. "She turned the whole island topsy-turvy," a friend recalls of the incident on Skorpios, until she found the missing tape in her handbag. "She terrified everybody." Friends say that Christina's sudden outbursts revealed a barely hidden mental anguish. "She has lots of money but she is not happy," says one. "That is why she eats so much and that is why she has psychological problems. She feels that all her friends are with her because she has money, not because of who she is as a person." Her insecurities, say friends, have made her unable to form close and lasting relationships. "People get bored with her after a while," confides one. "She is always the same—spoiled and temperamental. She will never grow up."

Indeed, though Onassis remains an able administrator of her father's vast shipping firm, the Monaco-based Olympic Maritime S.A. (it had a net profit of $25 million last year), she has been under assault for years by an endless barrage of personal and financial troubles. Her squabbles with the Greek government continue to torment and embarrass her, as evidenced by her highly publicized three-hour detention by Greek immigration authorities at Aktion airstrip last September, when she was informed that she could not leave Greece for her home in Paris because she owes $33 million in inheritance taxes (her appeal of the debt is now pending in the courts).

Moreover, thrice-married Christina has been stunned and depressed by a succession of disastrous romances. One love, French aristocrat Jean-Jacques Cornet-Epinat, was killed in a fall from his polo pony in 1980. Then, after her 1981 breakup with Nicky Mavroleon, now 23, son of another Greek shipping magnate, she was spotted sitting on a park bench on the Avenue Foch dressed in dark clothes like a mourning Greek widow, her hair unkempt. Former husband Sergei Kauzov, 43, who resides in London and lives off the proceeds of their 1980 divorce settlement, still sees Christina frequently, but friends scoff at rumors they might be getting back together again. She reportedly had a short fling last year with British financier David Davies, 43. Currently, according to Fleet Street gossip Nigel Dempster, she is seeing George Tsaussis, 40ish, "the out-of-work boyfriend of her aged aunt." But friends say fulfillment continues to elude her, despite her hedonistic attempts to hide her unhappiness. "She seems not to give a damn anymore what people think of her," says one friend. "She goes to bed with anybody she likes and doesn't give any explanations. She is very lonely."

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