By Nick Squires, Rome and Matthew Day 4:40PM BST 30 May 2013
The sale of an idyllic Greek island owned for decades by the Onassis family has been thrown into doubt amid concerns that it contravenes the wishes of the late shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
Skorpios was sold last month by the Aristotle Onassis's granddaughter Photo: Rex Features
Skorpios, a forested island surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, was sold last month by the magnate's granddaughter, 28-year-old Athina Onassis Roussel, to a Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, for a reported $100 million (£66 million).
Mr Rybolovlev, 47, the multi-billionaire owner of the AS Monaco Football Club and co-founder of Uralkali, a Russian potash producer, bought it as an extravagant gift for his 24-year-old socialite daughter, Ekaterina.
But the deal is now in question amid claims that Onassis, who is buried on the island, stipulated in his will that it should remain in his family's hands as long as they could afford to maintain it.
Failing that, the island was to be bequeathed either to the nation, to be used as a holiday retreat by the head of state, or to Olympic Airways, the country's national airline, to be used as a summer camp for the children of employees.
There is little doubt that Miss Onassis Roussel, the only surviving descendant of the shipping tycoon, can afford the upkeep of the island – the Swiss-educated heiress was once described as "the richest girl in the world."
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The Greek government said the sale is now being reviewed after questions were asked in parliament.
Yiannis Stournaras, the Greek finance minister, said his ministry had asked government lawyers to check the legality of the transaction and whether it was in the "public interest" of the Greek state.
Yiannis Milios, chief economist for Syriza, the opposition party, told The Daily Telegraph recently: "In Aristotle Onassis's will there was a clause saying that if the island was not kept in the family, it should be returned to the state.
"But obviously the lawyers thought they had found a formula by which it could be sold."
Although the Greek press has said that the Rybolovlev family has already started work on restoring buildings on Skorpios and tidying up the island, it remains unclear if the sale process has been concluded.
When it was first reported in April, a prominent broker of private islands told The Daily Telegraph that the fact that Mr Onassis's grave was on the island could present an obstacle to the deal.
Farhad Vladi, whose company, Vladi Private Islands, sells islands around the world to the super-rich, was hired by Ms Onassis Roussel to carry out an evaluation of the island eight years ago.
If the sale is found to be illegal, a compromise might be reached by which the island would be given to the Rybolovlevs on a long lease.
Aristotle Onassis bought Skorpios, off the west coast of Greece, in 1962 and turned the barren island into a luxury resort by planting thousands of trees and importing sand.
In 1968 the island hosted his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the assassinated US President John F Kennedy.
After Mr Onassis's death in 1975, Skorpios passed to his daughter Christina, who died of a heart attack at 37 in the late 1980s after a history of drug abuse, weight issues and four failed marriages.
Onassis, his son Alexander, who was killed in an airplane crash aged 25, and Christina are buried on Skorpios.
Athina Onassis Roussel was just three years old when her mother died.
Miss Onassis Roussel, who lives in Brazil, is said to have shown scant interest in spending time on the island.