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Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — 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 at age 90, her family said.

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 and said the funeral would be "strictly private."

Fortabat became one of Argentina's wealthiest women at age 54, when 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.

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

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' 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.

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.

Survivors include her daughter from her first marriage, Maria Inez de Lafuente; three grandchildren, Alejandro Bengolea, Barbara Bengolea and Amalia Amoedo; and seven great-grandchildren.

MICHAEL WARREN,Associated Press

Michael Warren on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mwarrenap


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