The Mark Twain of Branson has melded into a philosopher/comedian.
He was an art professor at Odessa Pedagogical University in Ukraine before starting his comedy career in the United States, and he remains a talented artist.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade centers, he began working on a mural to commemorate the event. Just in time for the first anniversary of the event, the mural was printed on a huge banner, with the quote "The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart." It was hung from a nearby building where it was clearly visible from Ground Zero for over a year. Yakov financed the banner with $100,000 of his own money, but kept his donation anonymous, for fear that people would see it as a joke because of his reputation as a comedian.