Born in 1938 in Beirut, a member of the Lebanese Jewish community, he moved to Brazil in 1962 to take over with his brothers the bank founded by his father, who died the following year.
The Safra group subsequently became a financial empire, present today in more than 25 countries.
According to the Forbes magazine ranking, Joseph Safra was the richest man in Brazil and had the 63rd fortune in the world, estimated at 23.2 billion dollars.
Patron and philanthropist, he had donated part of this fortune to medical research projects.
He had also acquired sculptures by Auguste Rodin to donate them to the Pinacoteca de Sao Paulo, one of the city’s main museums.
In 1999, his brother Edmond died of suffocation during an arson attack in his apartment in Monaco by one of his caregivers, a case that had hit the headlines.