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Gilded Lily: Lily Safra: The Making of One of the World's Wealthiest Widows Paperback – June 28, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A skillfully executed exposé of the life of the Brazilian-born widow of Monaco banker Edmond Safra, who died in a suspicious fire in his Monte Carlo penthouse in 1999, delineates the paranoid desperation of the very rich. Journalist Vincent (See No Evil) delves fearlessly into the messy, lucky, upwardly mobile climb of four-time-married Lily Safra nee Watkins, the daughter of a native Londoner who made his fortune in railroads. Spoiled, pampered, more socially adept than beautiful, Lily first married the wealthy hosiery manufacturer Mario Cohen in 1952, when she was 17, then divorced him after 13 years and three children to marry the Rio millionaire Alfredo Monteverde. With his dubious suicide in 1969 (manic depressive, he supposedly shot himself twice in the chest while napping in his home), Lily inherited million, much of it squirreled away by the discreet Syrian-born Sephardic Jewish banking brothers, Joseph, Moise, and Edmond Safra, the widow relying on the last to extricate herself from the Monteverde family's challenging the will. A romance developed between Edmond, who moved fluidly among his banking enterprises in Geneva, New York, and London, and Lily. Now members of the "billionaire's club," regularly noted approvingly in gossip columns, as Vincent shows through great reporting, Lily and Edmond Safra entertained like royalty, yet found their wealth could not shield them from family tragedies and threats to personal security.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The mesmerizing biography of one of the world's richest, most intriguing women—philanthropist and socialite Lily Safra

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 Edmond Safra, died in a fire. An American nurse employed by the Safra family was eventually convicted of the arson death. Overnight, Lily became one of the wealthiest widows in the world.

The Brazilian-born Lily Safra was no stranger to tragedy. In 1969, her second husband, the Brazilian multimillionaire Alfredo Monteverde, died from two gunshots to the chest. The Brazilian authorities ruled it a suicide. In 1989, her beloved eldest son and four-year-old grandson died in a car accident. But just who is Lily Safra? Despite having become a fixture in society columns for her generous charity work and lavish parties, the elegant and enigmatic widow has remained in the background.

Gilded Lily tells Lily Safra's story for the first time. Using archival sources, court documents, and interviews with childhood friends and former employees in South America, investigative journalist Isabel Vincent chronicle's Safra's rise from humble origins in Brazil to fabled wealth in London, New York, and Monaco.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061133949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061133947
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I look forward to reading her next book.
sdwharris
Essentially this book is about a woman who wanted money in her life and didn't care who she hurt or stepped on in order to get that money.
Reading Rocks
This book is well written and wonderfully researched!
Teri Douglas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Castaway on July 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and I thought it was great read.. read it in a few days...I don't see the negatives the other readers might have but I found it easy and informative...In the end I didn't much care for Lily I skipped over some parts I was familiar with from Dominick Dunne RIP...I probably would never have heard of Lily Safra if it was not for Mr, Dunne. I found his writing very entertaining. I have also enjoyed this book.....
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Grace D. Stephens on August 29, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I had seen Domenick Dunne's television episode about the death of Edmond Safra some time ago, so I was curious to know more of the story. I found Gilded Lily to be a page-turner. Isabel Vincent has done a fine job of impartially reporting facts, events and personal accounts, allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions about what might motivate wealthy powerful people to make personal choices such as these people have made.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reading Rocks on May 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in a few days....good beach reading. The author writes in a style that keeps your interest. Also, the author provides back-stories where needed which I find very useful when reading about someone who lived in a different era than I did. The writing style is very fluid and keeps your interest. There is a photo section (black and white photos) and it was interesting to see what her husbands looked like and how her looks have changed so dramatically over the years. Lily Safra is the widow of Edmond Safra who died in a fire in their Monte Carlo penthouse. Edmond Safra was a gazillionaire so Lily's life with him was pretty sweet in terms of having anything she ever wanted. The author did a good job of researching Lily's beginnings and her 3 marriages (Edmond being her 4th husband). One gets a sense of what society living was like in Rio in the 1950's. Essentially this book is about a woman who wanted money in her life and didn't care who she hurt or stepped on in order to get that money. She was a lousy wife, lousy girlfriend, and especially a lousy mother. The woman has no redeeming qualities as a person. She does have redeeming qualities as a member of the elite in that, she (and Edmond, when he was alive) is philanthropic so many organizations and/or charities do/did benefit from their contributions. Kind of feel sorry for her.....all that money and 2 of her husbands died under mysterious circumstances and she has no relations with her surviving children.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Victorianna on July 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book about Lily Safra very much and cannot understand why the previous reviews were so negative. It was very informative and very well written book. I thought it gave a very good overall insight into her life and I never felt she was a bad person and felt much sympathy for her. Her life story is a very fascinating read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Fitzgerald on September 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the moment I turned the first page, I was hooked. The story is fascinating, it is all about Lily Safra's status, manipulation, and greed mixed with some very sad events in her life. Since most of us do not live a life like Lily Safra, it is interesting. The author tried very hard not to turn the book into a gossip column and she did her home work with the research for the story. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Manhattanite on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Vincent has accomplished the difficult task of writing a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, but backed up with solid evidence. The research is outstanding. Of course, she had a compeling subject, and let's not dismiss fame and fortune.I read the book in three sittings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lucille Hume on June 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most exciting books I have read in a long time. I could not put it down and even took it everywhere with me in my purse as I wanted to know what was happening next in the life of Lily Safra. I do recall the case many years ago and of course have my views on what really happened to her husband. I would love to know what Mrs. Safra is doing with her life since Ms. Vincent wrote this book on her life. All my friends have read it and agree with me - they can't put it down.

I liked the idea that the author started this tale from the beginning of Lily's life and found the life she led very very interesting. What a woman!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Spiguel on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is beyond my expectations, a brilliant research, skilfully presented. It keeps you interested until the end of the story.
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