Sir Richard Branson’s eight-bedroom Great House burned to a crisp when Hurricane Irene ravaged his private Necker Island on Monday.
Branson, 61 and his wife of 22 years, Joan, were in a villa 100 yards away with their 25-year-old son, Sam, when lightning sparked a fire destroying the Virgin Group tycoon’s $70 million Caribbean home.
The couple’s daughter Holly, 29, and approximately 20 guests – including Academy Award-recipient Kate Winslet and her children – were in the Balinese-style home when disaster struck in the wee hours of Monday morning.
As 100-foot flames engulfed the palatial home, Winslet swept Branson’s 90-year-old mother, Eve, into her arms and carried her to safety.
“Kate Winslet, her boyfriend and her family were there and Holly and some of her friends were also staying,” Branson told the New York Post. “My mother was there and they managed to get her out and she is fine.”
Heavy rains battered the British Virgin Islands until Tuesday and a smoldering fire continued to damage the once spectacular home.
Branson bought the 74-acre island in 1978 for a reported 180,000 pounds, and in 1982, built the waterfront mansion, which boasted open-air bedrooms and breathtaking views of the Atlantic. The island also showcases an eco-friendly resort.
Branson revealed plans to rebuild the family’s home in time for his daughter’s December wedding to fiancé Freddie Andrewes.
Take a look at Branson’s video of the catastrophic fire.
Source: New York Post