Billionaire businessman Richard Branson saw a sharp drop in his net worth this year, but he won’t have to sell his private island just yet.
The 72 year old Virgin founder remains one of the hundred richest people in the UK in spite of a sharp financial downturn since 2022. In a report which found that the net worth of the country’s richest people rose significantly, Branson was one of the exceptions.
He was the subject of controversy when he asked the government for a loan from the government during the pandemic - he eventually concerned a £600 million government loan and a £1.2 billion private loan.
Despite these bailouts, Branson's Virgin empire continued to suffer setbacks in the post-pandemic years - this is Richard Branson's net worth today, and why it dropped since 2022.
What is Richard Branson’s net worth in 2023?
The Sunday Times put Richard Branson and his family’s collective net worth in 2023 at £2.41 billion - a drop of £1.79 billion (42.6%) since 2022.
Branson is now 77th on the Sunday Times Rich List, a record of the wealthiest people and families living in the UK. Branson has dropped 33 places on the list since last year, although he is still in the top 0.0001% of the UK’s richest people.
Branson sits just behind Sir Anwar Pervez and his family - the Bestway owner’s wealth rose by more than £1 billion to £2.42 billion - and ahead of Page Industries owner Sunder Genomal and his family, who is a new entry on the list with a net worth of £2.27 billion.
The list leader, Gopi Hinduja and his family, owner of the transnational Hinduja Group, retained the top spot from last year with a net worth of £35 billion, up by more than £6.5 billion since 2022.
Overall, despite the cost of living crisis and continued fallout from the Covid pandemic, it has been a good year for the country’s richest people. Although the number of billionaires fell by six in the last 12 months, the four richest UK billionaires saw their combined wealth grow by more than £40 billion.
How did Richard Branson make his money?
Richard Branson made his fortune through a diverse range of business ventures, primarily through founding the Virgin Group in 1970. Virgin is a multinational group of more than 400 companies.
Virgin Records, established in 1972, signed major artists including the Rolling Stones and Sex Pistols. Branson later branched out into airline travel, telecommunications, finance, and more. Virgin Airways revolutionised the commercial airline industry in the 1980s and helped to make Branson into a household name.
In 1979, Branson bought Necker Island in the Caribbean for $180,000 (£145,000) and spent $10 million (£8 million) transforming it into a luxury resort.
He also invested in sectors including hotels, health clubs, space travel, and renewable energy. Branson first became a billionaire in 1991 and has retained the label ever since, despite his net worth fluctuating dramatically.
Why has Richard Branson’s net worth fallen?
Branson’s net worth had dropped before - it dipped slightly in 2015 before remaining steady for three years. In 2019 and 2020 it dropped by around a third, but rallied again the following year.
However, this year saw another sharp decrease for Branson, at a time when many other billionaires were growing their wealth.
The 40% drop in Branson’s net worth has been blamed on the devastating effect of the Covid pandemic on the leisure industries which Virgin is heavily involved in.
Virgin has also suffered more recent setbacks - a failed satellite launch in January was followed by the company responsible, Virgin Orbit, filing for bankruptcy in March. No fewer than 85% of Virgin Orbit’s staff were laid off and its assets were sold off for less than 1% of the company’s estimated value.