Joseph Safra Net Worth & Biography

Popular Name: Joseph Safra
Real Name: Joseph Safra
Birth Date:  1 September 1938
Birth Place: Beirut, Lebanon
Age: Died on 10 December 2020 (aged 82)
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: Lebanese, Brazilian
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Married
Spouse(s): Vicky Sarfati
Children: 4
Profession: Businessman, Banker
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $25 Billion
Last Updated: 2022

Joseph Safra was a former immigrant from Lebanon who went on to achieve prominence and became one of the most successful bankers in the world and Brazil’s richest person through a lifetime of deal-making. He was born in Beirut into a Jewish family and emigrated to Brazil after World War II with his father, Jacob, and his brothers Edmond and Moise. The family later built a private banking empire that stretched from São Paulo to New York to Geneva. Their venture, Banco Safra, is, today, regarded as the eighth-largest private bank in Brazil, and its two offshoots are the J. Safra Sarasin bank in Switzerland and Safra National Bank of New York in the United States. Mr. Safra also owned the “Gherkin” skyscraper in London’s financial district and held an interest in the banana firm Chiquita Brands International. For thirty years, he lived in the shadow of his more prolific brother Edmond, a fellow billionaire who died at 67 in 1999. In 2006, Joseph Safra paid the sum of $2.5 billion for his brother Moise’s 50 percent share in Banco Safra, cementing an absolute control of the family business. Conservative but strategic, Joseph Safra surprised many in 2011 when he acquired the shaky Swiss bank Sarasin (founded in 1841), doubling the assets under his management. Even as his wealth multiplied, Mr. Safra was not well known among the citizens of Brazil. He developed a reputation as a cunning man who in several instances took on his brothers for business advantage. He was also one of the top philanthropists in Brazil.

Early Life

Joseph Yacoub Safra was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on September 1, 1938, to Jacob Eliahou Safra and his wife Teira Safra. His father, Jacob, founded one of the oldest banks in Lebanon. When the family moved to Brazil, Jacob founded Banco Safra in 1955 with just seven employees.

The youngest of nine siblings, Joseph is said to have studied in England before working at Bank of America in the US, after which he joined his brother Moise in running the family business after their father died in 1963.

Professional Life: Business Career

Edmond Safra, who started working in the family business when he was 23 years old, separated from his brothers Joseph and Moise, and headed to New York in the United States where he founded the Republic National Bank of New York.

Founded in 1955 by Jacob Eliahou Safra, Banco Safra today is, reportedly, the eighth-largest private bank in Brazil.

A deeply reserved man, Joseph was the chair of the Safra Group offering banking services throughout South America, North America, and Europe. He acquired the remaining shares of the Safra conglomerate from his brother Moise Safra, but continued to maintain a shareholding in Fibria Cellulose.

In 2013, Joseph’s family acquired many more properties in the United States, primarily in New York. They also own a portfolio of residential and commercial real estate in Brazil, as well as in certain parts of Europe.

Personal Life

Safra used to live in Geneva, Switzerland. He was married to Vicky Sarfati in 1969, and they had four children together.

His first son, Jacob, is responsible for the company’s international operations. His other son, David manages Banco Safra in Brazil.

The businessman had Parkinson’s disease, and it led to his death on 10 December 2020 at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife, Vicky; his sons Jacob, Alberto, and David; a daughter, Esther; and 14 grandchildren.

A prominent figure in the Jewish community in Brazil, Mr. Joseph Safra helped fund an ornate synagogue in São Paulo. It is currently the country’s largest. He also contributed to restoring the country’s oldest synagogue, located in the city of Recife. Joseph also donated money to the arts, hospitals, historical preservation, and religious sites of all faiths. In the year 2020 during the Covid-19 crisis, he helped fund research for a vaccine against the coronavirus.

He also enjoyed collecting art and books and was a passionate supporter of football who would travel abroad so he could watch Brazil’s national team play. He also loved to play with his grandchildren, telling stories and transmitting values, tradition, and culture.

Joseph Safra Net Worth

At the time of his death in December 2020, Joseph Safra had a net worth of 25 billion dollars. When his net worth topped in March 2019, Forbes magazine named him the richest person in Brazil

Mr. Safra’s wealth was earned through a string of investments, particularly in the banking sector. He was the sole owner of the 8th biggest bank in Brazil known as Banco Safra. He also owned Bank Sarasin which he purchased in 2012 for $2.1 billion. Prior to his unfortunate passing, the late businessman owned $1.5 billion worth of real estate assets in Europe and the United States. His children currently manage his business empire.

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