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Richard Branson is offering up his private island in the British Virgin Islands as collateral to save Virgin Atlantic. Here's how he spends his $4.4 billion fortune.

Richard Branson is offering up his private island in the British Virgin Islands as collateral to save Virgin Atlantic. Here's how he spends his $4.4 billion fortune.
How Virgin Group founder Richard Branson spends $4 billion net worth - Business Insider

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has a net worth of $4.4 billion. When he spends his money indulgently, it's to make money in return.

richard bransonrichard branson
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is known for his eccentricity — and his billions.
Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
  • Sir Richard Branson is offering to put up his private island, Necker Island, as collateral to save his Virgin Atlantic airline from collapsing. 
  • Branson founded the Virgin Group, which operates within many of the industries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, including aviation, leisure, hotels, and cruises.
  • Branson has an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.
  • Branson is rather frugal. When he spends his money indulgently, it's only to make money in return — like renting out real estate he owns, such as Necker Island.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sir Richard Branson has offered to put up his private island, Necker Island, as collateral in order to save his airline — Virgin Atlantic — from collapse. 

In an open letter to Virgin Group staff dated Monday, Branson wrote that Virgin Group operates within many of the industries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, including aviation, leisure, hotels, and cruises with more than 70,000 employees across 35 countries.

"As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the Group," Branson wrote, as reported by Business Insider's Rosie Perper

The Virgin Group brings in more than $21 billion annually in global revenue. As the billionaire chairman, Branson has overseen approximately 500 companies and is known for his charisma and eccentric behavior. He's built up a net worth of an estimated $4.4 billion, which is largely tied to The Virgin Group.

Ever the savvy businessman, Branson has spent some of his billions indulgently, but mostly to make money in return. When it comes down to it, Branson is rather frugal. He also donates much of his time and money to philanthropic efforts.

Below, see how the eccentric leader spends his billions.

Richard Branson launched his first business at age 15. In 1972, he founded Virgin Records and went on to launch the Virgin Group conglomerate. Through this, he's built an estimated $4.4 billion net worth.

richard branson virgin
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson
Punip Paranjpe/Reuters

Source: Forbes, Business Insider

Branson is well-known for his jet-setting adventures and eccentricity, such as dressing as a butterfly to run a marathon.

richard branson
Christopher Lee/Getty

Source: Business Insider

Virgin Media, Virgin Australia, and Virgin Atlantic are some of the biggest companies under Virgin Group.

richard branson virgin
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Source: Financial Times

Overall, Branson is frugal, largely because he grew up in a middle-class family. "The idea of having a possession that is there just as pure luxury, and is not actually paying its bills is something which I'd be embarrassed about," he told The Guardian in 2002.

Richard Branson
Paul Kane / Getty

Source: The Guardian

He does have a history of luxury purchases, but they're often more an investment than a personal indulgence.

Richard Branson
Getty Images

Source: This is Money

Case in point: Branson once hired a plane for $3,000 when passengers were bumped off his flight to the Virgin Islands. He advertised the flight going one-way at $39 per person and made $69. It was his first ever flight, he said.

richard branson
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Source: This is Money

And then there's the island Branson owns: In 1978, he purchased Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands for $180,000.

Necker Island
Facebook/Necker Island

Source:  Business Insider

Five years and $10 million later, Branson built a resort on the island, which doubles as a home for him. It's welcomed many celebrity guests, from Kate Winslet and Kate Moss to Princess Diana and Larry Page. The Obamas have even vacationed there.

Necker Island
Facebook/Necker Island

Source: Business Insider, CNN

In 2006, he estimated that the island's value had increased to $60 million — a 33,233% increase from his purchase price. He previously called it "the best financial move" he ever made.

Necker Island
Facebook/Necker Island

Source:  Business Insider

But in April 2020, Branson offered Necker Island up as collateral to save the Virgin Group from collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Necker Island
Virgin Limited Edition

Source: Business Insider

In 2009, Branson bought a 32-meter catamaran, which he named Necker Belle, for around $6 million. Branson chartered her at Necker Island starting at $60,000 a week and recently sold her for $3 million.

richard branson necker belle
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images, Virgin

Source: Business Insider

He also bought a mini-submarine, which he named the Necker Nymph, for a reported $547,482. Starting prices to rent her begin at $25,000 for seven nights at Necker Island.

necker nymph
Courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition/Necker Island

Source: Virgin, Daily Mail

But Necker Island is only one of Branson's luxury real estate holdings, which are known collectively as Virgin Limited Edition. He also owns Son Bunyola; located in northwest Mallorca, the estate offers three luxury villas for guests.

Son Bunyola
Son Bunyola/Facebook

Source: Virgin Limited Edition

Elsewhere in Europe, Branson purchased The Lodge, a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. One room rentals are around $945 a night and exclusive use in the winter for a week is $89,916.

the lodge
The Lodge/Facebook

Source: Travel + Leisure

The rest of Branson's properties are located in Africa — like Mont Rochelle, a hotel and vineyard near Cape Town in South Africa.

Mont Rochelle
Mont Rochelle/Facebook

Source: Virgin Limited Edition

Branson also owns a resort in Morocco called Kasbah Tamadot. There's no word on how much he purchased it for, but the 28 rooms each run for $717 a night.

Kasbah Tamadot
Kasbah Tamadot/Facebook

Source: Travel + Leisure

Branson has a thing for safaris. He owns Mahali Mzuri, a tented safari camp in Kenya's Maasai Nara National Reserve with a 40-foot infinity pool. Rooms are around $590 a night.

Mahali Mzuri
Mahali Mzuri/Facebook

Source: Architectural Digest

And Ulusaba, his fourth African property, located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, also offers safari experiences.

Ulusaba
Ulusaba/Facebook

Source: Virgin Limited Edition

Before taking up residence on Necker Island, Branson lived in his Oxfordshire mansion in Kidlington. It's unknown how much he paid for it, but he did sell it to his children for $1.78 million.

Sir Richard Branson UK phone booth
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Source: Virgin Islands News Online

He also owned a home in Holland Park, London. He bought it for $3.3 million and later listed it for $23.12 million.

holland park mews
Holland Park.
zoonabar, Flickr

Source: The Guardian, Daily Mail

In 2002, Branson still paid a mortgage. "It makes economical sense to me to have a mortgage," he told The Guardian. "I don't have a specially arranged discount, only because it might be embarrassing to have a special rate."

richard branson
Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian

You wouldn't find a lot of expensive artwork hanging in any of his homes. He prefers to buy watercolors at a reasonable price, he told The Guardian.

richard branson
Danny Moloshok/Reuters

Source: The Guardian

He still owns a refurbished houseboat in London that he purchased for around $2,600, which is available to rent for a little more than $1,000 a week. He said never plans to sell it.

London, England
ileana_bt / Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider, This is Money

To jet around from place to place, Branson owns his own private plane — a Falcon 50EX, which costs around $21 million brand new.

richard branson
Virgin Group's Founder billionaire Richard Branson waves from the window of Virgin Galactic's mothership WhiteKnightTwo, July 28, 2008.
Fred Prouser

Source: Business Jet TravelerBusiness Jet Traveler

Branson also drives a Range Rover, but it's gifted to him every year from the brand.

Range Rover Sport Dynamic
The Range Rover Sport Dynamic, a Jaguar Land Rover car.
Jaguar Land Rover

Source: The Guardian

He also told The Guardian he doesn't spend much on clothes.

richard branson
Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian

He told Page Six he wears the same pair of jeans every day with a plain white shirt: "Whatever I'm doing, whether it's a speech, whether it's going to see the Queen, you know, whatever it is."

richard branson
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Source: Page Six

Branson previously said people won't let him pay for things. "I'll be in a restaurant and the manager will say: 'Oh no, it's on the house,'" he once said in an interview.

richard branson
Getty Images

Source: This is Money

But he tips big when someone deserves it. "I certainly tip larger if I feel that people have done their work with a smile. But I don't splash out because I think that's embarrassing," he said.

Richard Branson
Paul Kane/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian

He also tips generously when he has a special request — he once offered a London cab driver two first class plane tickets, worth around $5,276.

Richard Branson
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Source: This is Money

One thing Branson doesn't spend his money on: gambling. He once took his two kids to Las Vegas and gave them each $40 in casino chips to teach them the perils of gambling.

richard branson holly branson
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Source: CNBC

However, the lesson failed because they accidentally left a few chips behind — which tripled into a small fortune.

richard branson sam branson
Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

Source: CNBC

Branson is big on philanthropy. He devotes 80% of his time to Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group. Branson and The Virgin Group fund overheads and costs to the non-profit.

Richard Branson
Virgin Group founder and chairman Richard Branson sits down with Business Insider in November, 2016.
Business Insider

Source: Business Insider, Virgin Unite

The charity has founded and supported a variety of projects including The B Team, The Carbon Room, The Elders, and Oceans Unite.

richard branson
Sir Richard Branson participates in a SiriusXM 'Town Hall' Event hosted by Dan Rather on October 18, 2017 in New York City.
Astrid Stawiarz / Stringer

Source: Virgin Unite

Branson has also signed The Giving Pledge, in which he promised to give away more than half of his wealth during his lifetime.

richard branson
Paul Kane/Getty

Source: Business Insider

Branson puts time and money toward the environment. In 2007, he offered $25 million to scientists who could discover ways to save the planet from climate change as part of the Earth Challenge.

richard branson earth environment
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

Source: Reuters

He also pledged $3 billion over the course of a decade to develop low carbon fuel and alleviate global warming.

Richard Branson
Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Airlines, in 2016.
Getty

Source: NBC News

And with more than 60 companies in Virgin's portfolio, Branson continues to invest money in expanding and growing Virgin with new ideas.

richard branson
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Virgin, Business Insider

To Branson, the biggest luxury isn't money: "If we're talking about personal luxuries — and the luxury of being your own boss — the biggest reward is the amount of time one can find for family and friends."

Richard Branson
Todd VanSickle/AP

Source: The Guardian

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