Yiannis Boutaris

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Yiannis Boutaris currently serves as mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city. This forward-thinking and inspirational leader is not your typical politician. When we think of political figures, we rarely imagine someone with seven tattoos, spiked hair, and pierced ears. He is a frequent smoker and was one of the first political figures in Greece to forego the traditional tie. While his ascension to power may seem surprising, the city of Thessaloniki was desperate for change following the previous mayor’s conviction for embezzlement and the city’s economy sinking into serious debt. This man has achieved worldwide recognition despite his completely radical demeanor. He has been hailed as a “beacon of hope” and a “model” for Greece by countries worldwide. The European Union has praised him for his efforts to rein in government spending and bolster his city’s economy. He frequently travels abroad in search of advice and to encourage visitors from all over the world to come to his city. He aspires to transform Thessaloniki into a multicultural epicenter of activity. He has been so successful that German newspapers assert that if every Greek politician possessed Boutaris’ perspective, Greece would not be in the financial mess it is currently in.

Childhood & Adolescence

Yiannis Boutaris was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, on June 13, 1942. Stelios Boutaris, his father, was a winemaker.

The Boutari winery was passed down through generations, making them the country’s oldest winemaking family.

He attended Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s elementary school and Anatolia College’s secondary school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University in 1965.

He earned a diploma in oenology from the Athens Wine Institute in 1967. He then joined his family’s business.

Career of Yiannis

Yiannis Boutaris worked in the family winery from 1969 to 1996. He held the positions of assistant director, technical director, and managing director during his tenure with J.Boutari & Sons Wineries.

In the 1990s, he converted an abandoned village owned by his family into Arcturos, a wildlife reserve. The reserve protects brown bears, wolves, red deer, lynx, golden jackals, the European otter, as well as flora and a variety of other animals and plants.

He left the family business in 1997 to forge his own path. He established the Kir-Yianni corporation. This winery, located in Naoussa and Amyndeon in Northern Greece, is committed to innovation and integrated farming.

In 2003, he sold the winery and transferred ownership to his son. His business was extremely successful, but he desired a career in politics.

He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2006. His primary platform entailed fundamentally altering the city. His primary objective was to establish a more stable economy. However, he was neither a leftist nor a rightist politician. He fell somewhere in the middle and now describes himself as a social democrat who is pro-business.

Yiannis Boutaris was elected mayor of Thessaloniki in November 2010. His unconventional attitude and straightforward personality were precisely the kind of radical change the city desired and required. He was backed by a more centrist left-wing political party, despite the fact that he had never been a member.

He met with the mayor of Bitola, Macedonia, in May 2012. The two countries reconciled and signed a declaration of cooperation. The two leaders played down previous border disputes and discussed Thessaloniki’s potential as a regional hub for education and multiculturalism.

Yiannis Boutaris was re-elected mayor of Thessaloniki in 2014, receiving nearly 60% of the vote. Since taking office, he has transformed city hall by requiring council meetings to be broadcast on television and mandating that heads of various departments convene for meetings.

Significant Works of Yiannis

His most notable accomplishment as mayor has been the economic development of his city. He is widely credited with reducing government spending. In 2011, he cut the budget deficit by 30% and restructured his administration, significantly reducing the number of departments and employees.

Yiannis Boutaris has been successful in instilling a sense of pride in his city’s ethnic diversity. He has openly advocated for the establishment of mosques and an Islamic studies department at Aristotle University. His candor has resulted in significantly increased tourism rates.

Awards and Accomplishments

In 1996 and 2003, he was named winemaker of the year. His own company is devoted to the production of authentic and palatable premium wines.

In October 2012, he was named ‘the best mayor of the world’ by the London-based City Mayors’ Foundation. He received this honor for his efforts to bolster Thessaloniki’s financial stability.

In 2014, the Huffington Post ranked him first on a list of their favorite mayors. The same year, he was one of only 26 leaders nominated for the World Mayor Prize. He did not win the award, but being nominated for it is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Personal History and Legacies

He was seven years married to Athina Michael. They divorced but remarried later. Later that year, she died.
Stelios, Michalis, and Fanny are his children. In 2003, his son Stelios assumed control of Kir-Yiannis, allowing him to concentrate on his political career.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of Yiannis is $3.5million.


He has been forthright about his prior alcoholism. He entered a rehabilitation program in 1991 and has been alcohol-free ever since. He refused to drink any of the wine even while working at the winery.

Boutaris does not use the limousine to which he is entitled as mayor. Rather than that, he has opted for a small eco-friendly Fiat Panda and frequently pedals his bicycle to a favorite café in Thessaloniki.