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Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, Argentine patroness of art; at 90

Mrs. Fortabat with Henry Kissinger in an undated photo.
Mrs. Fortabat with Henry Kissinger in an undated photo.Reuters/REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES - Businesswoman and philanthropist Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, who built a billion-dollar fortune with her late husband's Argentine cement companies and became a leading art collector, died Saturday, her family said. She was 90.

She died in her luxury apartment in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires, "accompanied by her entire family,'' according to the family's statement. It did not give a cause of death.

Mrs. Fortabat became one of Argentina's wealthiest women at age 54, when her second husband, Alfredo Fortabat, 27 years her senior, died in 1976.

At the time, Argentina had just fallen under a dictatorship with close ties to the country's wealthy business elites, and the Loma Negra cement businesses flourished through government contracts with the military junta.

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She also inherited huge cattle ranches and properties in the United States, including a Park Avenue apartment.

Mrs. Fortabat traveled often as she expanded her modern art collection, which includes an Andy Warhol portrait of her, painted in the same style as his famous Marilyn Monroe series.

Despite her many properties, her private art collection grew to the point that it needed a home of its own. In 2001, she opened the Museo Fortabat in Buenos Aires's Puerto Madero district, a modern building where many modern master works are now on public display.

"Mrs. Fortabat exercised a clear leadership at the service of the nation's growth and business development, directing for more than four decades the Loma Negra company as well as other relevant businesses,'' the family statement said.

Mrs. Fortabat sold Loma Negra to Brazil's Camargo Correa group in 2005 for about $1 billion, but remained involved in the Fortabat Foundation, a charitable organization, as well as other holdings.

Maria Amalia Sara Lacroze Reyes Oribe de Fortabat Pourtale was a Latin American aristocrat from the day she was born on Aug. 15, 1921. Her mother's family descended from Uruguay's second president, Manuel Oribe. Her grandfather, Federico Lacroze, built the first trains in the Argentine capital in the 1880s.

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She leaves her daughter from her first marriage, Maria Inez de Lafuente; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.