One of the world’s richest women, Lily Safra has died aged 87. The Brazilian billionaire passed away on Saturday, 9th July in Geneva, Switzerland. The socialite had a fortune of more than R$ 5 billion, i.e. roughly US $1.3 billion as per the annual list of Forbes magazine.
Lily was the widow of banker Edmond Safra who died in 1999. The cause of her death has not yet been revealed by her family. Read on to know more about the billionaire and her life.
Lily Safra Came from a Humble Background
Lily was born on December 30th, 1934 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her father was a railway engineer from the Czech who had moved to Brazil for the electrification of Brazil’s railway. She grew up in Rio de Janeiro, before moving to Uruguay with her family.
She was married four times throughout her life. She met her first husband, Mario Cohen at the age of 17. Cohen was an Argentine hosiery magnate, with whom Lily had three children in the early 1960s.
She then went on to marry businessman Alfredo Monteverde in 1965. Alfredo committed suicide in 1969 and left all his assets to his wife. Edmond Safra was her late husband’s banker whom he dated for a while, but their relationship ended because Safra’s family did not approve of it.
In 1972, she married another businessman Samuel Bendahan, but ended up divorcing him only a year later.
Lily and Edmond Safra
Lily finally married Edmond Safra in 1976. Edmond founded the Republic National Bank of New York. In 1999, he died in a fire accident in Monaco that was ruled to be murder. Because of his riches and position, his death piqued the curiosity of the media. Edmond Safra ‘allegedly felt so protected here that when he slept in Monaco, he did not have his security remain the night.’
Ted Maher, a former Green Beret, was suspected of lighting the fire in order to obtain Edmond Safra’s acceptance when he would eventually rescue him, but it quickly became out of hand. Ted was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Lily somehow managed to save herself from the accident. She inherited $800 million from the late banker’s assets.
Lily’s Charitable Work
The billionaire was known for her generous donations to charities. She founded the International Sephardic Education Foundation along with Edmond Safra and Nina Weiner in 1977. She was also the chairperson of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation which works for humanitarian relief and medical research.
Lily supported the American Red Cross Organization. In 2009, she was presented with the ‘An Enduring Vision’ award by the Elton John AIDS Foundation for her long-term association with the foundation.
In May 2012, she proposed to auction 70 pieces from her jewelry collection to Geneva’s Christie. The money raised by the auction was donated to 32 charitable institutions around the world in the fields of education, healthcare, religion and culture. The same year, she donated $16 million to Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital in Tel Hashomer.
In 2019, she pledged €10 million for the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris after it was damaged due to a fire.
Lily will surely be remembered for her charitable work. For more news and updates, keep watching this space.