Boaters in the Ionian Sea have reported aggressive guards patrolling the private island of Skorpios, the Cruising Association (CA) has warned.

Skippers venturing too close to the islands of Skorpios and the smaller Sparti, which lies 2km north, are being met with armed guards, employed by Russian owner, Ekaterina Rybolovleva.

The island became famous when it played host to the wedding of its owner, Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy, widow to US President John F. Kennedy.

CA member Jim Baerselman has spent many years cruising the Ionian. He said: ‘When the Onassis family were actively using the island, their guards made it equally clear that visitors were not wanted.

‘Men with guns would make the point, quite unambiguously. But when the Onassis family lost interest in the place, it was still guarded, but the guards allowed people to anchor off and tie to the shore, in two spots of the island, which I did in 2012.

‘I received a report last year that the local security guys were making it very clear to those who approached the island that they were unwelcome, and warned not to come ashore.

‘It has been suggested that the local authorities are turning a blind eye to the threatening behaviour, due to the huge investment in the area.’

Mr Baerselman added: ‘Greek law states that anything more than 10 metres from the beach is public land, so boats are legally allowed to anchor by the island.’

However, guards may be acting under the Right to Privacy Law, which could be used to allow security teams to keep onlookers at bay.

The Mayor of Lefkada, Costas Aravanis, told TF1 (French TV) that the investment is ‘good news for the local community.’

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The Greek Onassis family had owned the island since 1962, after paying a reported £10,000, but with several years of no use, it was sold by Aristotle’s granddaughter in 2013 for £100million.

Officially paid for by 25-year-old socialite, Ekaterina Rybolovleva in 2013, legally the island is still owned by the Onassis family, but leased to a trust in Ekaterina’s name for 100 years.

The Russian owner has since declared that the island is a long-term investment, and will be undergoing ‘environmental development’.

Aristotle said that while his family could afford it, the islands would not be sold, and only when the maintenance was too much, they would be donated to the state.

There is currently an investigation on-going to find out if the Rybolobleva family is legally able to claim ownership, since New Democracy MP Giannis Mihelakis raised the question in Greek Parliament.

  • Alex

    We sailed right through the red buoys this summer. Couldn’t care less of the guards in the RIB – we were on “public domain”. They must have figured it out, because they did not bother to approach us 😀

  • Paul Heywood

    I can concur with this. I was sailing round there last year. There was a line of red buoys stretched across the large bay on the north of the island. As we approached, a rib with armed guard came towards us. We stayed outside the line of these buoys but the rib still stayed watching us