Sumner Redstone, Joseph Safra, Sheldon Solow: Jewish Billionaires Who Passed in 2020

May they be of blessed memory.

Sumner Redstone

This past year we lost Sumner Redstone, Joseph Safra and Sheldon Solow. But, thank the Lord, we did not lose them in an untimely manner or to the Coronavirus. In a year where so many celebrities and world figures passed from disease and accidents, like Kobe Bryant and Eddie Van Halen, these three men were at least able to live out their very successful lives even into their 90s.

Sheldon Solow was a New York Real estate mogul. He died in November at the age of 92. The Brooklyn native was an entirely self-made man whose father was a brick layer. His Solow Management had one last major project to complete before he died.

This is the $4 billion development underway on Manhattan’s East side. It is located on what was once a power plant and encompasses 9.2 acres of land just south of the United Nations. His company is still building seven glass towers there with 4.8 acres of gardens, lawns and esplanades.

According to Forbes Sheldon Solow was worth $4.4 billion at the time of his death.

Sumner Redstone was a real visionary. He built up Viacom into a behemoth of an entertainment company. He combined Paramount movie studios with the CBS television network under one roof.

Redstone served as an Officer in the American army during World War II and earned a degree from Harvard, all by the age of 24. He got his start in business with his father Michael Redstone’s business National Amusements. That company was originally only a distribution vehicle for movies. But Sumner Redstone knew an opportunity when he saw one, buying Viacom in the 1970s and later Paramount and CBS.

When already in his 90s, Redstone had the clichéd old rich man’s problems from a failed relationship with a much younger woman. Sydney Holland was almost 50 years his junior. In the last years of Redstone’s life she was one of a number of women who tried to sue Mr. Redstone for various reasons. Holland complained that he broke a promise to marry her.

Mr. Redstone’s children stepped in to protect their father who they felt was being taken advantage of by young women who exploited his old age for their own benefit. Four years ago he stepped down as the head of Viacom and turned operational control of the company over to his daughter Shari Redstone.

Sumner Redstone was worth an estimated $2.6 billion when he died last August.

Joeph Safra did not make get to live as long as either Sumner Redstone or Sheldon Solow. Safra was only 82 when he died earlier this month.

Mr. Safra was born in 1938 in Lebanon and immigrated to Brazil in the 60’s continuing his father’s business and building the J. Safra Group. In 1969, he married Vicky Sarfaty, with whom he had 4 children and 14 grandchildren. While born in Lebanon, his family came from Aleppo in Syria. There his family had a successful business in the camel trade.

A Brazilian Jewish banker, has was the world’s richest banker, worth an estimated $23.2 billion.

He was the owner of the 8th largest bank in Brazil. He also owned J. Safra Sarasin in Switzerland which Safra established in 2013 after a merger. His son David manages Banco Safra in Brazil; his son Alberto left the bank’s board of directors in October 2019. Joseph Safra was also the owner of 50% of banana grower Chiquita Brands International.

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