Branson Lost His Memoirs In Island Blaze

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August 28, 2011 | 9:30am EST

Airline tycoon Richard Branson lost his autobiography and 15 years worth of handwritten notes when a blaze ripped through his Necker Island retreat earlier this month.
Actress Kate Winslet and 20 other guests were holidaying at the billionaire businessman’s Caribbean home in the British Virgin Islands when lightening hit the wooden property and set it ablaze.

Winslet helped escort Branson’s 90-year-old mother Eve to safety as the building burned around them – and now the Virgin Atlantic boss has opened up about the extent of his losses in the blaze.

He tells Britain’s The Sunday Times, “My office was in the house and I lost everything in it. I’d got a long way into writing my autobiography (which included losing my virginity) and it’s lost. Fifteen years of handwritten notebooks went and photographs and so on.

“Running a business, we have a meticulous computer backup system so I’d assumed all that was completely safe. But it turns out the backup was also in the house.

“Everything filed on the computers there in the past few years is lost, both business-related and personal… But these are things. And as long as you have your family and friends around you they’re not that important.”

A representative for Branson adds, “The biggest disappointment is that Richard was well through his new book. It was sitting on top of about 10 years of notebooks, about 40 of them in total. He’s now just hoping his memory is still intact as he’s going to need it – and he plans to buy a fire-proof vault.”