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Home World Lily Safra, Star-Crossed Socialite and Philanthropist, Dies at 87

Lily Safra, Star-Crossed Socialite and Philanthropist, Dies at 87

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Lily Watkins was born on December 20, 1934 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her father, Wolf Watkins, was a British engineer who moved to Latin America in search of business opportunities and found them while servicing the region’s booming rail industry. Her mother, housewife Anita (Nudelman) Watkins, fled her native Ukraine in the face of anti-Semitic pogroms.

Watkins owns a railroad car factory in Mesquita, Rio de Janeiro, and soon moved with his young family. He became the town’s elder, and even today, the town’s main street, Luamister Watkins, bears his name.

When Lily Watkins was 19, she moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, where she married Hosiery mogul Mario Cohen. They had three children, but their marriage was unstable and they soon divorced.

She returned to Brazil and married Alfredo Monteverde, a Romanian immigrant born in 1965 as Greenberg but whose name was Hispanic. He owned a series of electronics stores and made a lot of money, but he also suffered from depression. He died of suicide in 1969, leaving her about $ 200 million.

Survivors of Mrs. Safra include her daughter Adriana Cohen. Her son Eduardo Cohen. And some grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Complete survivor information was not immediately available.

After Monteverde’s death, she moved to London. When she sought his help in dealing with her sudden wealth, she met Mr. Safra, a descendant of the Lebanese merchant family. His religious Sephardim family hated his more secular Ashkenazi girlfriend, but they started dating, and they broke up.

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