Sir Richard Branson has been forced to call off an attempt to circumnavigate his ego in his own flamboyant and challenging style. The 59 year old industrialist set off from Necker Island, a 74-acre island that Branson owns, accompanied by a team of experienced ‘ego-trippers’ but only got as far as ‘having his own spaceship’ before being forced to turn back.
Branson’s ego is one of the largest in the Western hemisphere and one of only three man-made objects visible from space. It begins with publishing a student magazine, aged 16, before taking in the Virgin record label, Virgin megastores, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Rail.
The billionaire was born in Blackheath, South London and struggled at school due to mild dyslexia, but thanks to an almost preternatural self-belief he created the Virgin brand.
Renowned Norwegian ego-tripper Serge Herfilgar, who accompanied Branson says: ‘Weddings, soft drinks, mobile phones, stem cells, TV programming, contraception there’s nothing Richard thinks he isn’t an expert in. You’ve never seen an ego like it. I’ve been with him while he walked around his island in the British Virgin Islands, rebranding everything – Virgin trees, Virgin waterfall, Virgin house… It was only because his wife put her foot down that he wasn’t allowed to name his kids – Virgin Girl and Virgin Boy.’
‘Without Richard Branson there would be no Tubular Bells,’ says retail analyst Nick Bates, ‘which in itself would make most reasonable people recoil from society in shame, but clearly Branson’s ego is vaster than even he had anticipated.’
Following the failed bid, Branson issued a statement saying, ‘I love setting myself huge, seemingly unachievable challenges and then proving everyone else wrong. I know other people have attempted to cross my ego before and failed, and I wanted to prove it could be done, preferably by me. And faster than everyone else as well. I guess you could argue that I’ve been around the world by balloon, speed boat and amphibious vehicle, but I’ve never been to me.’
Undeterred by this setback Branson has admitted he is already planning another ambitious and gruelling challenge; ‘It’s the last great physical conquest left for mankind. I am going to attempt to scale the North face of my own beard.’