Lily Safra, celebrity socialite and philanthropist, dies at 87

Lily Watkins was born December 1st. October 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 serving the region’s booming railway industry. Her mother, Annita (Nudelman) Watkins, a housewife, fled her native Ukraine due to anti-Semitic pogroms.

mr. Watkins owned a railcar factory in Mesquite, Rio de Janeiro, where he soon moved with his young family. He became an elder of the city, and even today the main street of the city, Rua Mister Watkins, bears his name.

When Lily Watkins was 19, she moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, where she married Mario Cohen, a hosiery magnate. They had three children, but the marriage was not easy, and they soon divorced.

She returned to Brazil and, in 1965, married Alfredo Monteverde, a Romanian immigrant who was born in Greenburg but hispanized his last name. He made a fortune owning a chain of hardware stores, but also struggled with depression. He committed suicide in 1969, leaving her about $200 million.

Mrs. Safra’s survivors include Adrian Cohen’s daughter; son of Eduardo Cohen; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Full information on the survivors was not immediately available.

After Mr. After the death of Monteverde, she moved to London. She met Mr. Safra, a descendant of a family of Lebanese merchants, when she asked him for help in managing her sudden wealth. They began dating, although his religious Sephardic family did not like his more secular Ashkenazi girlfriend, and they broke up.