After suffering a lightning strike in the dead of night, Richard Branson’s gorgeous home on Necker Island went up in flames on Monday – completely engulfed in 90mph tropical storm winds and sending residents scurrying for safety. Branson, his wife, son Sam, actress Kate Winslet and her two children, as well as many more were all present when the fire started.
“Many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping carry my 90-year(-old) mum out of the main house to safety,” Branson wrote in the e-mailed statement to CNN.
The billionaire bought the 74-acre island for the modest price of $288,000 back in 1978, opening an exclusive resort there in 1984. Over the years, the lodge has played host to rock stars, celebrities, politicians, and family gatherings. In a blog post, Branson lamented the loss of history from the fire, but pledged to rebuild immediately.
“Watching the sun rise this morning was surreal and haunting – the true extent of the damage highlighted in the early dawn light,” he wrote. “Smoke still rising and what was once our incredibly beautiful Balinese home nothing but ashes. But like a phoenix something beautiful will rise again from those ashes. It will take some time and it will be a few days before we understand the full extent of what is needed but lots of the talk in the middle of the night turned to what we could build, what would it look like, how could we design something even more beautiful. These thoughts kept the emotions at bay and stopped us dwelling on the fact that we had just lost our much beloved home and got us concentrating on the future.”
With Branson’s commitment to building green through other projects in development, you can bet that whatever rises out of the ashes on Necker will be a wonder of sustainable technology and architecture. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Necker Lodge. Check out some pics of the former home below.