Billionaire Branson Stayed At Private Virgin Island Retreat During Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma threatens Branson and Abramovich’s homes as Branson says he will stay there for the hurricane’s hit| Daily Mail Online


At sunrise, Hurricane Irma pounded two billionaires’ private island in the British Virgin Islands.  They own the little, tiny island at the northern end of Virgin Gorda Island.  It is a tiny dot on the map but does have some elevation, it isn’t all sea level.  So I am assuming that Branson isn’t drowning from surges but he is probably not alive or is suffering badly after deciding to stay for the 185+ mph sustained winds.  His giant houses there are very flimsy and prone to burn down due to bad construction choices and heedlessness about nature.  A previous tropical storm  destroyed half of his buildings there just six years ago.

This island has never been inhabited due to it being an uninhabitable place.  It has no natural water and no sheltered harbor.  A previous millionaire owned it but it was being seized by the government when Branson bought it at a fire sale for ‘cheap’.  He had to develop it as a ‘resort’ and so he built one that only billionaires could ‘rent’.


Since most of them are buddies and this includes Obama and the Royals, they actually pay nothing.

I saw from photos that this island at the west end is about 15-20′ above low tide which is little but maybe enough to avoid total pounding by surf in a normal hurricane.

This is the ‘sheltered’ side of the island but nothing is ‘shelter’ in this mega hurricane.  Since all the buildings are on crags or high ground, they are very exposed to high winds raking the island.  On top of that, these buildings are very open and flimsy.


Richard Branson’s $70 Million Caribbean Mansion on Necker Island


The island is available for weddings, relaxation breaks, sports vacations and even complete rentals for any purpose. One of the high profile recent guests is Larry Page, Google’s billionaire co-founder, who married his girlfriend, Lucy Southworth, on the island in early December 2007. Page rented a majority of Virgin Gorda as well, as Necker was far too small to fit his 600+ guest party.


He was ‘stunned by the view’ but what this means usually is, the observation point is dangerous in bad weather/volcanic eruptions/landslides/forest fires etc.  Beauty is where destruction lurks nearby.  Below is a helicopter shot of the mansion.  Note the coconut frond roof:

In the early hours of Monday, August 22, 2011, The Great House, as it was called, burned down in a fire believed to be caused by lightning from Tropical Storm Irene. The house was occupied at the time by as many as 20 guests, with Branson himself staying in a residence nearby. All 20 of the guests escaped unhurt from the burning house, which was said to have been totally destroyed, according to Branson. Among the 20 occupants were actress Kate Winslet, along with Sir Richard’s 90-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly, when the blaze broke out in the early hours of the morning.

Inside Richard Branson’s Necker Island – refurbished after fire – but it will only cost you £40,000 a night | Daily Mail Online: he rebuilt it the same way as before.


Two years later, Branson has announced the extensive restructure of the house is almost complete and will soon be available for exclusive hire once again – for a staggering £40,000 per night.


So this new structure which is being systematically turned into 3″x 1″ slivers is only three years or so old.  Branson and his rich buddy can afford to rebuild every time a hurricane shows up but I think Branson won’t be rebuilding this time around, not being around, himself.

Obama kiteboards in Caribbean with billionaire Richard Branson

Note the straw roof.  Yes, Obama freeloaded there after the election.  Readers here can insert comments about this, yourselves.  Below is a billionaire’s hideaway on another of the Virgin Island resorts:

The reason this is all news to me is due to the hubris factor of Branson thinking he can defy Mother Nature when she has a major snit.  The gods are greatly amused by ‘hubris’ from mere humans.


On the other victims: this is terrible suffering.  The wind speed of the gusts in this hurricane are over 210 miles per hour which is tornado speed.  I seriously doubt anyone has ‘tornado proof’ shelters anywhere on any of these islands which is why so many of these islands were very sparsely occupied or not occupied at all when Columbus stumbled into them 400 years ago.


Filed under .money matters

12 responses to “Billionaire Branson Stayed At Private Virgin Island Retreat During Hurricane Irma

  1. JimmyJ

    Hubris indeed.

    Branson says, “Everyone is willing the eye of the storm to veer away from the BVI in these last few hours. We are expecting to get the full force of the hurricane in around five hours’ time when we will retreat to a concrete wine cellar under the Great House.”

    Typical of rich folks that they credit their incredible will for their life’s course, not luck, the Gods or “the universe unfolding as it should”. Should he survive this he will become even more insufferable.

  2. Ken

    Hurricane proof “safety rooms” like Brandon’s wine cellar are nice features. I wish I had one.

  3. Melponeme_k

    A smarter rich man would have purchased the island and left it as a nature sanctuary. But I don’t think animals are that dumb enough to make a home there.

    Unfortunately, it won’t matter if the man is pulled out of his basement and flies around like Mary Poppins. I guarantee you after it is all done, he’ll rebuild his house on that hurricane attracting island.

  4. Jim R

    So you’re saying there’s hope that we will be rid of the old bastard?

    (unfortunately there’s a long long list of others like him who were safe on dry land..)

  5. Lisa

    The Weather Channel said not to take refuge in a basement because they tend to flood. Except for the price, is there a difference between a basement and a “concrete wine cellar under the Great House”?

  6. Petruchio

    @#3 Mel: You are so right about Branson. Him and numerous other billionaires like him think they are immune to Fate and Karma. Use whatever term you like, but these guys don’t escape from the consequences of their actions. As for Branson, I’ll go you one better, Mel. I’ll wager you that Branson will rebuild on that island AND will proclaim it to be “bigger and better than ever.” A## Clowns like Branson never learn.

  7. Hey, I just found his facebook pages!

    His last posting was just before the hurricane hit. He and his staff are sleeping in this room with TAPE criss crossed over the windows! Talk about stupid.

    And going into the cellar is suicidal in storms with tons of rain. He wrote:

    Richard Branson is preparing to retreat to his wine cellar as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic heads towards his Necker Island complex.

    The billionaire Virgin boss has already announced that he will not leave his home on the British Virgin Islands despite Hurricane Irma – which is the size of France – threatening ‘potentially catastrophic’ damage around the Caribbean.

    Speaking of his experience last night, Branson – who is staying with an entire team of staff on the island – said the ‘howling wind and rain’ battered his home and created an ‘eerie but beautiful’ atmosphere.

    He wrote on his blog today: ‘We are expecting to get the full force of the hurricane in around five hours’ time, when we will retreat to a concrete wine cellar under the Great House.

    ‘Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge.’

  8. His ‘team’ are all very young foreign kiddies who have virtually no knowledge of how to deal with violent hurricanes (I have lived through and fought my way through and did massive repairs after at least a dozen hurricanes in my own life). Experience matters! A lot of these super rich dudes love to have naive youths to exploit. But the downside is, they don’t have much in the way of useful experience especially if they come from England or California, for example.

  9. Ken

    As predicted by Elaine, Branson’s mansion was totally destroyed by Irma.

    However, everyone survived in the reinforced wine cellar. It turns out it wasn’t a death trap after all. It may even have been designed and built for this specific purpose, with a side benefit of keeping wine cool.

  10. Lou

    I knew someone who worked for Mr Branson and said he was a good guy.

    But others rumor that he made his first money illegally.

  11. And he will go another three years rebuilding until it, too, is destroyed. Only rich people and the very poor who live in shanties, can afford to live in the path of a hurricane alley.

  12. Read an article BBC News posted today how the mansion and any food growing down there got destroyed. Presently has decided to take shelter in Puerto Rico.

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