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July 30, 2011

Sir Richard Branson's unlikely South Beach pad thisclose to NYC cop shooting

While some say there's definitely something shady about the NYC police officer shooting at 12th and Collins on South Beach, imagine how you'd feel if you lived in that neighborhood? We'd love to ask Sir Richard Branson, because, well, he lives right there. We just discovered that, contrary to images of a grandiose beach pad, the bazillionaire actually owns the penthouse at The Islander, located at 1255 Collins Ave. Registered under his wife Joan's name, the apartment was bought back in 2009 for a bargain (for Branson, anyway) $399k.

The building, whose residents are mostly elderly, is far from a place you'd expect a mogul to call home, with a non-functioning pool on the rooftop among other amenities, or lack thereof. When he bought the place, Branson told a fellow resident that he dislikes buildings with doormen, valet parking, concierges, etc., and that he doesn't want people to know his comings-and-goings. Oops.

But, really, with the recent shooting and the fatal Memorial Day weekend shooting a block away at 13th Street, will it be long before the Virgin emperor packs up and high tails it to a safer part of town? We couldn't tell you, but one resident did have some advice for him, saying, "He and his family members might be safer in those high-rises south of 5th or the two high-rises at the end of north Ocean Drive." And get this: Branson's not the first rich guy to live there. Rumor has it that hotelier Ian South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager was the penthouse's previous owner.