Billionaire’s ‘beyond offensive’ tweet
Colourful British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has unleashed a Twitter storm by sensationally claiming money doesn't buy happiness.
The Virgin founder - who has a staggering estimated net worth of $US4.1 billion ($A5.9 billion) - took to the social media platform yesterday to post a sweet photo of himself with wife Joan Templeman.
It was accompanied by the caption: "I truly believe that 'stuff' really does not bring happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters."
It immediately sparked an avalanche of criticism, with countless Twitter users accusing the father-of-three of being a "hypocrite" and wildly out of touch - especially considering he is the 34th richest person in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
He's also expanded his business empire into space travel through space tourism company Virgin Galactic, which aims to take paying customers into suborbital space.
I truly believe that ‘stuff’ really does not bring happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters https://t.co/GFLwOyJLGt pic.twitter.com/r4LbQOcg8J— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 29, 2019
Despite his phenomenal fortune, in 2017 Mr Branson was involved in a high profile dispute with the UK's public National Health Service (NHS), which is similar to Australia's Medicare system.
The stoush arose after Virgin Group's health and care services division, Virgin Health, lost its bid to supply children's services in Surrey, England, representing a loss of tens of millions of pounds.
High Court proceedings were launched and in the end, Virgin Care controversially won £2 million ($A3.5 million) in taxpayer-funded settlements.
Well then sell your private island and invest the proceeds into something that combats poverty, low educational attainment and lack of sufficient NHS resources then and keep your trite and extremely tone deaf platitudes to yourself. This type of tweet is beyond offensive— chris simmons (@chrisglas79) July 30, 2019
That NHS controversy has also been dredged up by the latest Twitter uproar, with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leading the charge.
"Perhaps our NHS could have the money back from when you sued it?" Mr Corbyn tweeted in response to Mr Branson's original post.
The Opposition leader's tweet has attracted tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments.
Coming from a man with millions of pounds worth of stuff, a private island and his own spacecraft, I’m afraid it sounds a bit patronising.— TravellingMan (@SJJB55) July 30, 2019
Several years ago, Mr Branson also copped criticism after revealing his primary residence was now on Necker Island, located in the British Virgin Islands, where income is not taxed.
The rich-lister nominated Necker as his tax base, which means he no longer receives the tax bill he previously received when his main residence was officially in the UK.
Many social media users have also raised that notorious tax avoidance in light of Mr Branson's Twitter misstep.
However, it is also worth noting that the eccentric mogul - who made his first million in his early 20s - is known for his generosity and philanthropy.
He is a member of the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest people to dedicate most of their wealth to giving back to the world.
He's also promised to give away $3 billion over 10 years to help the fight against global warming, and spends the majority of his time working on Virgin Unite, his company's charity sector which supports a number of causes and non-profits.
Wonder if anyone will say anything more tone deaf than Richard Branson did this week.— Nathaniel (@CancerNats) July 30, 2019
“Stuff” doesn’t bring happiness is the take of someone who has never not had “stuff.” It May not be the source of happiness, but iften Times “stuff” is what eliminates suffering so we can find the source of our happiness.— Tricia (@migrainedinpgh) July 30, 2019
While flying my private jet to my private island, I realized money can't buy happiness— fin (@dgphinny) July 30, 2019