Christopher Lee/Getty
  • Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has an estimated net worth of $4 billion (R55 billion).
  • 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.
  • In fact, Branson, who turned 69 on July 18, once said in an interview that he's "embarrassed" by displays of wealth, like leaving large tips and buying things for "pure luxury."
  • A member of the Giving Pledge, Branson would rather spend his money on philanthropy.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Sir Richard Branson wears the same pair of jeans every day, according to Page Six. That's a surprisingly frugal habit for a man with a $4 billion (R55 billion) net worth.

The billionaire chair of the Virgin Group, which brings in more than $21 billion (R292 billion) annually in global revenue, Branson has overseen approximately 500 companies and is known for his charisma and eccentric behaviours.

Ever the savvy businessman, Branson has spent some of his billions indulgently, but only to make money in return - like renting out real estate he owns (think Necker Island). When it comes down to it, Branson is rather frugal, opting not to own objects of pure luxury. He also donates much of his time and money to philanthropic efforts.

Below, see how the eccentric leader, who turns 69 on July 18, 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 billion (R55 billion) net worth.

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.

Christopher Lee/Getty

Source: Business Insider

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

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Source: Financial Times

Overall, Branson is frugal when it comes to luxury items, 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.

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.

Getty Images

Source: This is Money

Case in point: Branson once hired a plane for $3,000 (R41,000) when passengers were bumped off his flight to the Virgin Islands. He advertised the flight going one-way at $39 (R543) per person and made $69 (R962). It was his first ever flight, he said.

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Source: This is Money

Also take for example the island Branson owns. In 1978, he purchased Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands for $180,000 (R2.5 million).

Facebook/Necker Island

Source: Business Insider

Five years and $10 million (R139 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.

Source: Business Insider, CNN

In 2006, he estimated the island's value increased to $60 million (R835 million) — a 33,233% increase from his purchase price. He previously called it "the best financial move" he ever made.

Source: Business Insider

In 2009, Branson bought a 32-metre catamaran, which he named Necker Belle for around $6 million. Branson chartered her at Necker Island starting at $60,000 (R835,000) a week and recently sold her for $3 million (R41 million).

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 (R7.6 million). Starting prices to rent her begin at $25,000 (R348,000) for seven nights at Necker Island.

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.

Source: Virgin Limited Edition

Elsewhere in Europe, Branson purchased The Lodge, a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. One room rentals are around $945 (R13,000) a night and exclusive use in the winter for a week is $89,916 (R1.2 million).

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.

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 (R10,000) a night.

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 (12-metre) infinity pool. Rooms are around $590 (R8,000) a night.

Source: Architectural Digest

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

Source: Virgin Limited Edition

Before taking up residence on Necker Island, Branson lived in his Oxfordshire mansion in Kidlington, London. It's unknown how much he paid for it, but he did sell it to his children for $1.78 million (R24 million).

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 (R45 million) and later listed it for $23.12 million (R322 million).

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."

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 watercolours at a reasonable price, he told The Guardian.

Source: The Guardian

He still owns a refurbished houseboat in London that he purchased for around $2,600 (R36,000), which is available to rent for a little more than $1,000  (R14,000) a week. He said he never plans to sell it.

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 (R292 million) brand new.

Fred Prouser

Source: Business Jet Traveler, Business Jet Traveler

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

Source: The Guardian

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

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."

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.

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.

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 (R73,000).

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 (R557) in casino chips to teach them the perils of gambling.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Paul Kane/Getty

Source: Business Insider

Branson puts time and money toward the environment. In 2007, he offered $25 million (R348 million) to scientists who could discover ways to save the planet from climate change as part of the Earth Challenge.

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

Source: Reuters

He also pledged $3 billion (R41 billion) over the course of a decade to develop low carbon fuel and alleviate global warming.


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.

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."

Source: The Guardian

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