No British tycoon is more popular, few claim to be richer and none has masterminded a more recognisable brand than Richard Branson. What is behind the success of the buccaneering balloonist, the tabloids’ favourite celebrity nude, the ‘grinning jumper’ and the scourge of corporate goliaths?
Helped by eyewitness accounts of more than 250 people with direct experience of Branson, Tom Bower has a uncovered a different tale to the one so eagerly promoted by Virgin’s publicists. Here is the full story of Branson: his businesses, his friendships, his ambition, his law-breaking, his drug-taking, his bullying. From the cockpit of a balloon in the clouds to the centre of Branson’s operations in his Holland Park home the book is an intimate scrutiny of exactly how Richard Branson created and sold himself. Tom Bower’s biography reveals Branson to be a single-minded profiteer who, while occasionally generous to others, has a fixed purpose to enhance his family’s wealth in secret off-shore trust funds. Instead of a glittering saint, Branson emerges as a devious actor, proud of plucking for his own profit the good ideas of others. Now fifty, Branson finds himself battling for survival.The man who so wanted to run the nation’s lottery is, up close, something of a lottery himself.