Just who is this Paris Latsis, besides Paris Hilton’s similarly named fiance? The two announced their engagement over Memorial Day weekend after a whirlwind romance that played out in Monte Carlo nightclubs, the balmy shores of Aruba and, of course, the pages of tabloids such as Us Weekly, Star and In Touch.

“Boy Paris,” as some friends have taken to calling him, is a Greek-born heir to an estimated $7.5 billion shipping and banking fortune, for which his father, Spiro, was ranked 54th last year on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s richest.

His family is accustomed to celebrity of a certain sort, having hosted Prince Charles on sailing holidays with both wives — Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Alexander, the pride of their fleet of yachts, is the third largest in the world.

By contrast, the Hiltons, as a family, are estimated to be worth a mere $775 million.

“His family is so rich, I don’t think people even understand how rich they are,” says one financier who knows the Latsises well. Latsis’ grandfather, known as “Captain John” until his death in 2003, was a fisherman who made his fortune as one of Greece’s leading shipowners. John Latsis owned one of London’s most imposing houses, right next door to Spencer House and backing onto Green Park. Latsis’ father, described as “enormously intelligent” and “discreet,” holds a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, and is credited with shifting the family’s focus into Swiss banking and oil interests.

The 27-year-old Latsis, educated in both England and Greece, hasn’t demonstrated much interest in the family business so far. “He’s fun to party with,” says one friend. “Or at least he thinks he’s fun to party with, but that’s it.”

Latsis is also no stranger to the paparazzi, having landed in the British press at 22 for dating fellow Greek Zeta Graff, 10 years his senior, who was then married to diamond heir Francois Graff. He still bears a “Z” tattoo on his wrist.

“Babalu,” as Hilton has nicknamed him, first met his blonde heiress counterpart when they were teenagers partying at Jimmy’z nightclub in Monaco. But they never dated until this past December, when they reunited at Latsis’ birthday, held at a Beverly Hills house then owned by Esquire magazine. Over the New Year holiday they enjoyed a romantic ski vacation in Gstaad, Switzerland, and by January, he’d moved in with her in L.A., after shelling out $10 million in cash to buy the 11,000-square-foot house where they met. This Sunday, they announced their engagement to 75 friends at a barbecue in its backyard. Hilton plans to name their children — what else? — Paris and London, she has said. Goodness only knows what the name will be if they have three.

This story first appeared in the June 1, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Their fast-moving relationship is just Hilton’s style, says a friend (although let’s hope this doesn’t mean she’ll follow her sister Nicky’s marriage flameout). “She doesn’t really have many friends,” he adds. “Instead, Paris has these obsessive relationships with her boyfriends.” Not to mention that Latsis must feel like the Paris of myth, having finally won his Helen of Troy.

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