Before I dive into this story of ghosts, gods and the Gucci Empire, let me tell you one thing. I do not believe in ghosts. Nor vengeful curses from the sea. I do however know that many do. And that they make for a great story. The kind which can lift the spirits of others during hard times such as these. As with the tall tale of the Gucci Kangaroo, enjoy what follows with a healthy scepticism.
Tempting the sea gods
The Creole is a 200-foot wooden sailing yacht. Built in 1927, its first owner was American millionaire Alexander Cochran. Christened Vira, it was the largest wooden sailing yacht ever constructed. Cochran did not have time to enjoy it. He died of cancer in 1929.
His heirs sold the boat. The Vira‘s second owner was Maurice Pope. The British yachtsman playfully renamed his new ship the Creole after a dessert invented by his chef. Pope’s change broke a very old taboo. Let me explain. Since ancient times superstitious sailors have been against renaming ships. When a boat is christened, the legend goes, its name goes into the Ledger of the Deep. This book is owned by the sea god Italians call Neptune.
To the Greeks he is Poseiden. Regardless of what you call him, this god is a vengeful one. Easily angered, he views the renaming of boats as an insult. And anyone who tries to fool the gods must be punished for their deviousness. Poseiden’s penalty? Bad luck.
Suicide on the Creole
When the Second World War broke out, the British government requisitioned the Creole for service as a mine-hunter. The boat was then purchased by Stavros Niarchos in 1953. The Greek billionaire spared no expense in restoring the age-worn Creole to pristine condition. Afraid to sleep below deck for fear of drowning he added a stately teak-paneled cabin to the upper deck.
The luxurious boat was Niarchos’ pride and joy. Until two tragedies struck. Overdosing on pills, his wife Eugenia Livanos committed suicide on the Creole in 1970. Niarchos then married Eugenia’s sister Christina Livanos. Let me tell you, this is where it gets odd. Christina also overdosed in 1974.
Heartbroken, Niarchos swore never to set foot on the Creole again. He sold it to the Danish navy in 1977. The Danes put the boat to good use. It became a drug rehabilitation clinic.