The banking tycoon lived in Geneva for over 40 years. Edmond J. Safra was born in Beirut in 1932 to a wealthy family of Syrian Jewish bankers who had once financed the camel caravans. At the age of 16, he was hired by his father's bank and took charge of the precious metals department.
In 1949, the family moved to Italy, fleeing the anti-Semite persecution brought
about by the emergence of the State of Israel. Edmond Safra worked for a trading company in Milan. The family moved once again in 1952, this time to Brazil,
where Edmond Safra founded the Banco
Safra S.A. in 1955.
In 1956, Edmond Safra settled in Geneva to set up a private bank, the Trade Development Bank. He found the business climate to be favorable and extended his financial empire, making it a point of honor to satisfy his fabulously wealthy clients from Monte Carlo to Miami. He also founded the Republic National Bank of New York in 1966.
Edmond Safra became famous in 1983 through the sale of the Trade Development Bank to American Express, a transaction that turned into a legal battle between the 2 parties. The financier came out on top and, in 1988, he founded the Safra Republic Holdings S.A., a firm specializing in wealth management.
By the early 90s, Edmond Safra's fortune was an estimated 2.5 billion dollars. He made many donations to Jewish hospitals, schools and universities throughout the world. As he approached his 60s, the financier shared his time between his home in Geneva, New York and his villas on the French Riviera.
Weakened by Parkinson's Disease, Edmond Safra decided to sell his financial
empire, an estimated value of 2.75 billion dollars. He died in 1999,
in Monaco, at the age of 67 and is buried in Geneva.