Bad Fortune: Five Bizarre Billionaire Murders
Still, no one is completely immune to murderous plots -- not even billionaires.
Indeed, the wealthier people are, the more likely they are to be targeted by unscrupulous foes after their money or -- in the case of those billionaires who play politics -- their power.
Here's a list of the world's richest murder victims, some of whom met deadly ends that one would more likely expect to see on the movie screen -- bombs, arson and even a kinky sadomasochistic sex scene.
Al-Hariri, a self-made Lebanese billionaire who amassed his fortune in the construction business, and whose clients included the Saudi royal family, was assassinated in Beirut in February 2005 when a bomb exploded near the motorcade (above, right) in which he was traveling. Al-Hariri served as prime minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and from 2000 until his resignation six months before his death. His assassination is still being investigated by the U.N., but it is believed that the Syrian government was involved. Before his death, Al-Hariri's net worth was estimated to be $4.3 billion, according to Forbes.
Marwan (left), the billionaire Egyptian son-in-law of the late Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser, fell to his death in June 2007 from the balcony of his flat on the fifth floor of a London apartment building. His death is alleged to have been a murder disguised to look like a suicide. Marwan long believed he was being targeted for assassination after it was revealed he was an alleged agent for Israel's Mossad, or possibly a double agent for Egypt, during the Yom Kippur War. A witness claimed to have seen men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent on the balcony with Marwan shortly before he fell to his death.
Arkady "Badri" Patarkatsishvili
In 2008, Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian oligarch who was a business partner of Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, was found dead in his home outside of Leatherhead, Surrey, in the United Kingdom. The billionaire, who was 52 at the time of his death, was thought to have died of a heart attack after collapsing at his estate, but his death was considered "suspicious" by local authorities.
Shortly before his death, Patarkatsishvili had announced his intention to run for president of Georgia, but said he feared Georgian authorities were plotting to kill him, according to Reuters. In January 2010, a lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court by representatives of Patarkatsishvili alleging that his widow Inna Gudavadze and Berezovsky were involved with a plot to cause his death in order to "usurp control over his vast assets." Berezovsky has filed a lawsuit in England seeking half of Patarkatsishvili's estate, which is estimated to be worth $10 billion.
Edmond J. Safra
Safra was one of the 20th century's most accomplished bankers, greatest philanthropists and one of the world's wealthiest men. In December 1999, the Lebanese-born Safra, who was afflicted with Parkinson's disease, died in his Monte Carlo, Monaco, home due to a fire set by his American nurse.
In the trial that followed, it was revealed that the nurse, Ted Maher, had set the blaze hoping to carry out a rescue mission from which he would emerge a hero, but lost control of the fire. A group of firefighters arrived and attempted to save Safra, but they were unable to find him. He had barricaded himself, along with an employee, inside a bathroom, the door of which the firefighters were unable to locate because it was camouflaged to match the rest of the elaborately decorated bedroom.
Safra was known for being obsessed with security: His elaborate 20-room penthouse apartment in Monte Carlo was outfitted with bullet-proof doors and state-of-the-art locks, according to Gilded Lily: Lily Safra: The Making of One of the World's Wealthiest Widows (Harper, $25.99), a book about Safra's widow that will be released on June 29. Ted Maher was convicted in a Monaco court and spent more than eight years in jail. Forbes estimated Safra's net worth was $2.5 billion shortly before his death.
Stern, a banker and a member of a prominent French banking family, was murdered in March 2005 by his mistress during a bizarre sado-masochistic sex session in which she was trying to blackmail him. Stern, who was once ranked 38th in a list of France's richest citizens, was found shot to death on the floor of his Geneva, Switzerland, apartment (right) wearing nothing but a flesh-colored latex body suit. Next to his body was a chair, wrapped with a rope.
One of the richest men in France, Stern was also the son-in-law of Michel David-Weill, the billionaire former chairman of investment banking firm Lazard Freres. His mistress, Cecile Brossard, was convicted of murder in a Swiss court.