Joseph Safra ( ar|يوسف صفرا‎; 1 September 1938 – 10 December 2020) was a Swiss-based Lebanese Brazilian banker and billionaire businessman, who ran the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. He was the chairman of all Safra companies, among them Safra National Bank of New York and Banco Safra headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil. On August 2020, ''Forbes'' reported Safra's estimated net worth at US$22.8 billion, the 52nd richest person in the world and richest in Brazil.

Early life

Joseph Safra was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon to a family of Sephardic Jewish background originally from Lebanon and Aleppo with banking connections back to Ottoman times.Kasmira Jefford
Gherkin bought by Safra Group: Meet the Brazilian-Lebanese billionaire behind the £700m deal
''City A.M.'', 11 November 2014
The family's history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Beirut, Alexandria, and Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire. The Safra family moved to Brazil in 1952.


In 1955, Joseph's 23-year-old brother, Edmond Safra, and his father, Jacob Safra, started working in Brazil by financing assets in São Paulo. However soon, Edmond Safra separated from his brothers Joseph and Moise and headed to New York City where he founded the Republic National Bank of New York (which he later sold to HSBC in 1999 and donated most of his money to the Edmond Safra Foundation). Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in 1955 and today it is reportedly the 6th largest private bank in Brazil. In 2006, Joseph Safra acquired the remaining shares of Banco Safra from his brother Moise Safra. He remained the chairman of the Safra Group, offering banking services throughout Europe, North America, and South America, until the end of his life.


In 2013, Joseph Safra's family acquired more than a dozen properties in the United States, primarily in New York City. They also own a portfolio of commercial real estate in Brazil. In 2014, Safra paid more than £700 million to buy The Gherkin, one of the most distinctive towers in the City of London. He proposed to build the Tulip, a skyscraper in London, but the city's mayor rejected it in 2019. He founded the Jewish Brazilian school of Beit Yaacov in 2001.

Business holdings

*Chiquita *Safra Group **Banco Safra **J. Safra Sarasin **Safra National Bank of New York

Personal life

Safra used to live in Geneva, Switzerland. He had four children: Jacob J. Safra, (married to , son of Sasson Dayan), Alberto J. Safra, David J. Safra. Jacob is responsible for all international operations outside of Brazil while David and Alberto, manage Banco Safra in Brazil. Joseph Safra died on 10 December 2020 in São Paulo at the age of 82. He had Parkinson's Disease.

See also

*List of Brazilians by net worth


External links

Meet Joseph Safra, The Richest Banker On The Planet
The Safra Dynasty: The Mysterious Family Of The Richest Banker In The World
on Business Insider {{DEFAULTSORT:Safra, Joseph Category:1938 births Category:2020 deaths Category:Brazilian Jews Category:Brazilian people of Lebanese-Jewish descent Category:Brazilian people of Syrian-Jewish descent Category:20th-century Sephardi Jews Category:21st-century Sephardi Jews Category:Mizrahi Jews Category:Lebanese people of Syrian-Jewish descent Category:Lebanese emigrants to Brazil Category:Brazilian bankers Category:Brazilian billionaires Category:Safra family