Georges Livanos was born on August 8, 1926 in New Orleans, USA. His father, Stavros Livanos, was a great figure in Greek shipowning circles. During World War II, George Livanos served in the American army in Japan.
In 1946, he received a degree in economics from the University of Athens. In 1949, he founded his own company, Ceres Hellenic Shipping. Shortly after, he inherited his father's fleet of 30 ships, including the world's five largest supertankers.
Although rivals in business, the Greek shipowning families had close personal ties through the marriages of Georges Livanos' sisters. Eugenia Livanos married a competitor, Stavros Niarchos, and her sister Tina married Aristotle Onassis. After Eugenia's death, Tina divorced and remarried Stavros Niarchos, Aristotle Onassis' lifelong rival.
George Livanos, himself, was married to Fotini Karra, the daughter of shipowner, Yiannis Karras. The couple had two children: Peter and Marina.
Livanos managed his naval empire from Lausanne. With over 100 ships, his fleet was the largest merchant navy in Greece. He also created a shipping company between the Greek Isles and was involved in the protection of ocean and coastal waters. In 1994, his fortune was an estimated 3 billion dollars.
The Greek shipowner then diversified his activity and invested in real estate, as well as in the banking industry with Basil Goulandris, another Greek shipowner also based in Lausanne. George Livanos passed away on June 1, 1997, leaving his business to his son, Peter Livanos.