Vicky Safra is the wealthiest Greek woman in the world according to Forbes. Following the death of her husband Joseph Safra in December 2020, she became the matriarch of the massive Safra fortune.
The story of the wealthiest Greek woman on Earth
Safra, whose maiden name was Sarfati, married Joseph Safra when she was only 17. Her Greek-Jewish family had emigrated from Greece to Brazil in the 1950s when she was still a child, and she met her future husband there.
The Safra family made the first of their money in banking in the 1840s. They set up Safra Freres & Cie in Aleppo, Syria, to finance camel trade caravans during the Ottoman Empire.
Jacob Safra moved the family to Brazil in 1953. There, he started a company to trade in metals, machinery and cattle, and later created a bank. Joseph Safra, his youngest son, was studying in England when the family relocated to Brazil. He met Vicky Safra after rejoining them there.
They fell in love at first sight, according to reports, and went on to have a very long and successful marriage. The Safras had four children and now have 14 grandchildren.
Safra has now completely removed herself from the public eye; during his lifetime, she and her husband both preferred to keep a low profile. She has reportedly resided in Switzerland, where one of the family’s banks is based, for most of the past decade.
Safra is involved with the family’s philanthropic work, most notably the Vicky and Joseph Safra Foundation.
After her husband passed away in December 2020 at the age of 82, his fortune was distributed to his survivors, in what is being referred to as one of the largest wealth transfers in history.
Safra family fortune
The Safra fortune has now been passed down to Vicky Safra and her four children.
The family co-owns Switzerland’s J. Safra Sarasin and Brazil’s Banco Safra, two banks with about $90 billion in assets. They also inherited firms connected to some of the most impressive pieces of real estate they own, including the Gherkin skyscraper in London and 660 Madison Avenue in New York City.
The family had been prepared by Joseph for his passing, as he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; he spent more than a decade showing the children the company ropes. Jacob, 45, the eldest son, is in charge of international operations for the family business, while the youngest, David, 36, oversees the Brazilian firm.
The other two children of the Safra family are not employed as part of the company, choosing instead to follow their own career paths.