In the early morning of December 3, 1999, Lily Safra stood shivering in her nightgown on the grounds outside her sumptuous Monte Carlo penthouse, where just hours before, her fourth husband, reclusive billionaire banker Edmond Safra, died of smoke inhalation, unable to escape when flames swept through the residence. Though an American nurse employed by the Safra family was eventually convicted, there remains much speculation about exactly what happened. With Safra’s death, Lily stood to inherit four billion dollars.
Yet the Brazilian-born Lily Safra was no stranger to tragedy and intrigue. In 1969, her second husband, multi-millionaire businessman Freddie Monteverde, died from two gunshot wounds to the chest; the authorities ruled his death a suicide. And then in 1989, her eldest son and four-year-old grandson died in a car accident. But just who is Lily Safra? While she is a fixture in society columns for her charity work and lavish parties attended by royalty, the elegant and enigmatic widow has successfully kept her past hidden.
Gilded Lily tells Lily’s full story for the first time. Using archival sources, court documents, and interviews with childhood friends, former employees, and family in South America—many of whom have never gone on the record before—investigative journalist Isabel Vincent chronicles Safra’s rise from a lower middle class family in Brazil to fabled wealth in London and New York, and revisits the mysterious deaths of her two husbands.