Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lily Safra

Lily Safra is a Brazilian-Monegasque philanthropist and social figure who attained considerable wealth after four marriages. Her net worth is estimated at $1 billion, ranking her as the 701st richest person in the world according to Forbes in 2009. She owns a $506 million house, "Villa Leopolda", in the French Riviera.

Safra was born Lily Watkins  on December 30, 1934 in Porto Alegre, Brazil daughter of Wolf White Watkins, a British railway engineer who moved to South America and Annita Noudelman de Castro, a Uruguayan of Russian-Jewish ancestry.:17f She grew up in Rio de Janeiro. At the age of 17, she married Mario Cohen, an Argentine hosiery magnate. They had three children: Claudio (died in a car crash in Brazil ca. 1989.), Eduardo, and Adriana.

Lily and Cohen divorced in the early 1960s. In 1965, she married Romanian immigrant Alfredo "Freddy" Monteverde (formerly Greenberg), a leader in the Brazilian household appliance distribution business after establishing the Ponto Frio brand. He and Lily had one child, named Carlos. In 1969, Monteverde died by suicide. According to biographer Isabel Vincent, Monteverde's will left all his assets to her and, in concert with Monteverde's former banker, Edmond Safra, she took swift action to cut off the rest of his family.

Lily and Edmond Safra dated for some time, but she married a businessman named Samuel Bendahan in 1972, then divorced him after about a year of marriage.[8]

In 1976, she married Safra, a prominent Brazilian-naturalized Jewish Lebanese banker, and the founder, among other achievements, of Republic National Bank of New York. The couple divided their time between homes in Monaco, Geneva, New York and Villa Leopolda on the French Riviera. In a crime that attracted extensive media interest, Safra was killed in a fire that was determined to be arson. Edmond Safra "apparently felt so safe here that he did not have his bodyguards stay the night when he slept in Monaco". Ted Maher, a former Green Beret, who was Safra's bodyguard and nurse, was accused of starting the fire. His lawyer, Michael Griffith, has said that Maher did indeed start the fire in order to gain acceptance from Mr. Safra and that "It was a stupid, most insane thing a human being could do,” says Griffith. “He did not intend to kill Mr. Safra. He just wanted Mr. Safra to appreciate him more. He loved Mr. Safra. This was the best job of his life.” However, controversy still surrounds the case, as after his 8 year imprisonment, Maher has maintained his innocence. Safra left 50% of his assets to several charities, with the remainder divided up between his family members and wife who received $ 800 million.

From : www.wikipedia.org