I’ve never considered myself to be a celebrity stalker (at least I’ve never been arrested for it). I do, however, have a more than healthy interest in Sir Richard Branson. I’ll admit that I have read some of his books, hoping to unlock the secret to his success, and perhaps try to emulate it (albeit in a less eccentric manner). Perhaps this is why, on a recent trip to the British Virgin Islands, home to Branson’s private Necker Island, I kept hoping we would bump into each other. Naturally, he would realize how cool my family is, and invite us to hang out with him and a handful of other celebrities / business titans on his island. Sadly, none of this actually transpired, but there were no shortage of locals with an equal level of curiosity, willing to dish about their two degrees of separation from the U.K.’s 16th richest man. For anyone who shares my curiosity (you are still reading), here is what I learned.
P.S. This photo of Necker Island was taken from my vantage point on Virgin Gorda. If I were a real stalker, I would have a better camera lens.
- In the late 1970’s Richard Branson offered £100,000 to purchase the island, then listed at £5 million, leading to his eviction from the property. Later, when the owner ran into cash flow problems, he settled on £180,000 (wikipedia). It is now valued at around £60 million.
- In August 2011, the Great House on the island was destroyed by fire, likely started by lighting from Tropical Storm Irene. Kate Winslet, a guest of the house, helped Sir Richard’s 90 year old mother to safety. Sir Richard’s daughter went on to marry in the ruins of the Great House that same year.
- The locals on Virgin Gorda told me that Necker Island is staffed by hot 20-something Brits. I can confirm this fact, as I saw a hot guy with a little mohawk (and matching dog with mohawk) arrive at the dock in a hot little boat (a stark comparison to the more practical boats going to the other islands).
- Sir Richard is pretty much creating his own private zoo on the island with flamingos, parrots, giant tortoises and the recent addition of several dozen lemurs. You can see photos of these creatures on the Necker Island Facebook Page (and yes, I am a friend).
- School children from neighboring Virgin Gorda have been invited to have field trips on Necker Island (makes my kid’s trips to the fire hall look pretty lame).
- An avid kite surfer, age is not slowing this guy down, as shown in this post titled It’s Still Good To Be Richard Branson from www.sailfeed.com (warning – naked woman in photo).
Happy Holidays Sir Richard Branson, be they on Necker Island or in space !
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