Jackie Kennedy was one of the most talked-about women in modern history. So when rumors began circulating that she was romantically involved with Aristotle Onassis in 1968, any photos of him would sell for huge amounts of money. In August 1968, Greek journalist Nico Mastorakis decided to sneak onto Onassis’s yacht to snap a few pictures of the shipping tycoon. He got an even bigger story – confirmation of a relationship between Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy.
Onassis dated Jackie’s sister first
Aristotle Onassis has been associated with both the Bouvier sisters. Onassis was linked to Jackie’s younger sister, Lee Radziwill, in 1962 and 1963. In fact, she was the reason Jackie Kennedy and Onassis met. After Jackie and JFK’s baby Patrick passed away in August 1963, Lee invited Jackie to vacation with her and Onassis on the tycoon’s yacht. Jackie spent four weeks with the pair before heading back to Washington.
Bonded over grief
Onassis and Jackie Kennedy grew closer after John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Their relationship only intensified after Jackie’s brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, was killed In 1968. After RFK’s death, Jackie Kennedy reportedly fell back into a deep depression, similar to what she experienced in the days and months following JFK’s death. After Robert Kennedy’s death, Jackie Kennedy was quoted as saying, “If they’re killing Kennedys, then my children are targets. I want to get out of this country.”
Onassis could offer security and protection
Aristotle Onassis was able to offer Jackie Kennedy protection, something she desperately craved in the wake of such violence and tragedy. Onassis had his own private island in Greece, his own airline, and a private army with 75 heavily armed men. He was able to provide Jackie and her family with a sense of security.
Nico Mastorakis snuck onto a yacht to expose Jackie and Aristotle
By August 1968, rumors had already been circulating about a romance between Jackie and Aristotle. They had been photographed together many times but always in the company of other people, so nothing was known for certain.
Nico Mastorakis is a Greek filmmaker and radio personality. In 1968, he was looking for any possible leads when he discovered that Aristotle Onassis had invited Giannis Poulopoulos’s bouzouki group to play on board his yacht, Christina. Mastorakis was friends with Poulopoulos, and he convinced the bandleader to let him pose as part of the act to get access to the yacht.
Both Jackie Kennedy and her brother-in-law, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy were onboard the Christina. Nico later recalled how beautiful the yacht looked that evening. “The dinner was served on gold-plated china. Everywhere you turned there was crystal, immense detail. It was obviously one of [Onassis’] best-staged evenings of his life.”
The guests overindulged
Unbeknownst to anyone at the party, Nico Mastorakis was documenting everything going on. He hid a small camera inside a bouzouki guitar and took photos of the guests, including Jackie and Ted Kennedy.
As the evening wore on, the guests drank more and more. Even Jackie Kennedy was getting into the party spirit. Mastorakis noted that Jackie took one of the expensive china plates to throw it in the air and smash it on deck, but “Onassis grabbed it mid-air, and asked his staff to bring her cheap clay plates instead.”
Jackie Kennedy had vodka while Ted Kennedy drank only ouzo. On the other hand, Aristotle Onassis drank everything. Mastorakis remembered that “when he couldn’t drink anymore, he would go to the side of the boat and empty his stomach in the sea, and drink some more.”
‘I’ve got to go and make love to my wife’
Eventually, Jackie Kennedy got tired and went to bed, but Onassis decided to stay up drinking with the band. According to Mastorakis, Aristotle then said, “I would love to stay with you until daybreak but I’ve got to go and make love to my wife.”
This sentence confirmed that Jackie and Aristotle were not only dating, but seriously involved. Nico Mastorakis later reflected on Aristotle’s statement, saying, “Onassis wouldn’t use random words to describe his feelings. I think he was bragging that after a night of eating and drinking, he was still capable of going to make love to somebody. And the word wife came out with great assurance.”
Mastorakis thought he had a double scoop
After hearing Onassis refer to Jackie as “his wife,” Nico Mastorakis knew he had his story. It became apparent why Ted Kennedy was on board the Christina. He was there to negotiate the financial aspect of Aristotle and Jackie’s marriage. Once Jackie Kennedy remarried, she would have to automatically forfeit any money she got from the Kennedy trust and the widow’s pension she received from the government.
‘A gift’ for Kennedy?
However, Nico Mastorakis had spotted Ted Kennedy with an attractive blonde woman who was not his wife. According to the yacht’s head of entertainment, Onassis had flown this young woman in from Sweden as “a gift” for Kennedy. So Mastorakis thought he had two stories – the first being the relationship of Jackie and Aristotle, and the second being the fact that Ted Kennedy was caught cheating on his wife.
Ted Kennedy’s security detail became skeptical of Nico Mastorakis because of his good English. They searched the bungalow on the island where the band was staying, making Mastorakis realize he had to get away quickly.
Apprehended by the Greek secret police
Although Mastorakis made it back to Athens with his photos, he was quickly apprehended by the Greek secret police. Ted Kennedy had persuaded Aristotle Onassis to pull strings with the military junta running Greece at the time to apprehend Mastorakis.
Nico Mastorakis spent one night at the police station in Athens. After he was released, he realized that both his apartment and office had been ransacked. All the photos he had taken on board the Christina were gone, never to be seen again.
The story still ran
However, his newspaper still was able to publish a confirmation story about Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy’s relationship. Any references about Ted Kennedy had been removed. The story was reprinted and ran in newspapers worldwide.
More from us: From Sisters To Enemies? The Feud That Left Lee Radziwill Out Of Jackie Kennedy’s Will
Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis married on October 28, 1968. However, only seven years later, Jackie Kennedy was once again a widow after Onassis died of an illness.