The death of Edmond J. Safra on Friday brought to a close one of the most extraordinary success stories - in or outside of banking - of the 20th century.

Widely regarded as the last of a breed of old-style private bankers, Mr. Safra had just weeks ago rescued a deal to sell his Republic New York Corp. to HSBC Holdings PLC by agreeing to forego personally some $600 million in profits from the deal.

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