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Got $32m? Jackie O's 'Love Boat' for sale

By Sheena McKenzie for CNN
July 4, 2013 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Introducing Christina O, the former yacht of shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. But this isn't just any old luxury liner -- it's the backdrop to one of the most high-profile romances of the 20th century. Introducing Christina O, the former yacht of shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. But this isn't just any old luxury liner -- it's the backdrop to one of the most high-profile romances of the 20th century.
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Sail into history
Aristotle and Jackie
Ocean wedding
Cruising with Callas
Churchill at sea
Top deck
Luxury living
Playground for the rich
Songs of praise
Stairway to heaven
All aboard
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christina O, former superyacht of Aristotle Onassis, up for sale
  • Onassis wed former U.S. first lady Jackie Kennedy on board luxury vessel
  • Expected to fetch more than $32 million when goes on sale in mid-August
  • Backdrop to lavish 1950s parties, attended by Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra

Editor's note: MainSail is CNN's monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology.

(CNN) -- If this yacht could talk, one can only imagine the stories it would tell about one of the most high-profile romances of the 20th century.

The stately superyacht Christina O isn't just a gorgeous 99-meter vessel. It's the palatial setting where billionaire shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy, the former wife of U.S. President John F Kennedy.

Now the luxury liner which played host to the crème de la crème of 1950s high society -- including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and John Wayne -- has gone on sale for a whopping $32 million.

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Known for its lavish parties, the elegant ship may well be called the "Love Boat," for its notorious on board romances -- and even a royal wedding.

In 1956 Prince Rainier of Monaco and U.S. screen siren Grace Kelly held their wedding reception on the boat, which accommodates 36 guests in 18 sumptuous staterooms.

Onassis' own love affair with opera singer Maria Callas also played out on board, as they cruised exotic locations across Europe in the company of Hollywood stars Greta Garbo, Bette Davis and Margot Fonteyne.

However, the affair ended abruptly when the tycoon courted President Kennedy's widow, Jackie, later marrying on the very same yacht in 1968, near his private island of Scorpios.

Read: The £15 million superyacht controlled by an iPad

"Aristotle Onassis saw Christina O as a powerful symbol of his growing business empire," said Nicholas Edmiston, chairman of the yacht company Edmiston, which plans to sell the vessel mid-August.

Aristotle Onassis saw Christina O as a powerful symbol of his growing business empire
Nicholas Edmiston, chairman of Edmiston

"It really was the last word in opulence and many personalities were attracted by its ability to offer them some privacy, not just by its magnificence."

It's been quite a journey for the boat which began life in 1943 as a World War II surplus Canadian frigate.

A decade later, Onassis bought the boat for just $34,000, gutting the interior and spending $4 million -- the equivalent of $45 million today -- converting her into one of the luxurious superyachts in the world.

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In 1975, Onassis died and the yacht was left to his daughter, Christina, in his will. She in turn bequeathed it to the Greek government as a presidential yacht.

More than 20 years later, the tired-looking vessel was restored to its former glory, and now boasts an art deco dining room where Maria Callas and Frank Sinatra used to perform, an atrium with onyx pillars, and a mosaic pool which converts into a dance floor.

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