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Thursday, Oct 29, 2020

How Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk spends his billions

Elon Musk’s net worth is soaring in 2020, as Tesla’s surging stock price has roughly quadrupled since the start of the year.

Musk owns about 20% of Tesla’s stock, a stake that’s worth more than $50 billion, according to research firm Wealth-X. Overall, Musk’s personal net worth is estimated to be at least $66.7 billion, according to Wealth-X, which provided CNBC Make It with estimates of the value of Musk’s assets as of August 13. The rest of Musk’s net worth includes a stake in private aerospace startup SpaceX that Wealth-X values at $15.3 billion, along with cash and other substantial holdings, including multiple multimillion-dollar real estate holdings.

(In fact, Tesla’s stock continued to soar this week ahead of a stock split later this month which Wall Street analysts believe could cause even more demand for the hot stock.)

Tesla’s billionaire CEO, who is also the chief executive of SpaceX and founder of The Boring Company, has jumped up the billionaire rankings amid Tesla’s stock surge. Musk is now firmly in the top 10 of Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, ranking fourth, just ahead of France’s LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault and behind Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. That’s a substantial rise for Musk, who ranked 46th on the Billionaires Index in May 2019.

So how does one of the world’s wealthiest people make and spend his fortune?


Real Estate

When he’s not busy running multiple companies, Musk is pretty active in the real estate market. After Musk tweeted in early May that he planned to sell off nearly all of his physical possessions and “own no house,” multiple properties owned by the billionaire reportedly hit the market, including a 47-acre estate located in Hillsborough, California, a pricey location in the San Francisco Bay Area.


That property, which features a 10-bedroom Mediterranean-style mansion built in 1916, has an asking price of roughly $35 million.

In June, Musk reportedly sold a 16,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom mansion in Los Angeles’ Bel Air neighborhood for $29 million to a Chinese tech billionaire, NetEase.com CEO William Ding, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Based on Wealth-X’s estimates of Musk’s assets, the billionaire still owns at least four properties in the Los Angeles area that are worth nearly $40 million combined. Those include a 33,976-square-foot property valued at $5 million and a 1,540-square-foot property valued at $850,000, according to the research firm.


Philanthropy

In 2012, Musk joined the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in signing The Giving Pledge, promising to contribute a majority of his wealth to charitable causes over his lifetime.

In 2015, Musk gave $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, which is aimed at ensuring that artificial intelligence technology is “beneficial to humanity.” And in 2016 he reportedly donated Tesla stock valued at $255 million to his own charitable foundation, called the Musk Foundation.

(It’s worth noting that a 2019 investigation by The Guardian found that, while the Musk Foundation had donated millions of dollars to roughly 160 charities over nearly two decades, the foundation had also given money to a school where Musk’s children matriculated, a charity run by Musk’s brother, “a protest group fighting gridlock on Musk’s commute to SpaceX,” and a sculpture reportedly set on fire at the 2013 Burning Man festival.)

In 2018, Bloomberg reported that Musk had made over $6 million in anonymous donations to the environmental group the Sierra Club. Musk had asked the group to publicize those donations in order to offset backlash that followed his donations of more than $88,000 to Republican politicians at the time, according to Bloomberg.

Cars

Not surprisingly, the electric car CEO also owns a few interesting vehicles. In a 2013 Sotheby’s auction, Musk paid nearly $1 million for a rare 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car that was used in the filming of the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” (In the movie, the sports car actually transformed into a submarine.)

Musk’s stable of cars also reportedly includes a 1920 Ford Model T, which he says was a gift from a friend, as well as a Jaguar Series 1 1967 E-type Roadster. In 2017, Musk said those two cars were the only two gasoline-powered cars he owned, though he’s previously owned everything from a 1978 BMW 320i (the first car he ever owned) to a McLaren F1, a rare sports car that Musk says he wrecked in 2000 after buying it for $1 million.

In July 2019, Musk said on Twitter that he mostly drives Tesla’s Model S Performance sedan. The billionaire has also been spotted driving Tesla’s new Cybertruck around southern California.


Investments

Musk has said in the past that he typically only invests money in his own companies. In 2018, Musk himself contributed roughly 90% of the $112.5 million raised that year by his company, The Boring Company, according to The New York Times.

However, in recent years he has also invested undisclosed amounts as a financial backer for tech companies like the artificial intelligence startup DeepMind and the neurotechnology startup NeuroVigil.

In 2015, Musk and other entrepreneurs also contributed to a $1 billion pledge to fund the artificial intelligence research lab OpenAI.


All the rest

Wealth-X reports that Musk also owns $950,000 in exercisable stock options in Tesla, which along with his more than $50 billion stake in the company, accounts for more than 76% of his total net worth.

Meanwhile, Musk’s SpaceX holdings, which Wealth-X values at $15.3 billion, account for almost 23% of his total net worth. The private aerospace corporation recently made history with its first launch of NASA astronauts into space.

Musk also has roughly $660 million in estimated “proceeds from previous salaries, bonuses, investments, dividends and stock transactions,” according to Wealth-X.

Musk famously does not accept a salary as Tesla’s CEO. However, in May, Musk earned the first portion of his massively incentivized pay package that Tesla’s shareholders approved in 2018.

That portion gave Musk an additional 1.7 million Tesla shares (worth more than $700 million at the time, but which are now valued at more than $3.2 billion based on the company’s stock price as of Tuesday). The pay package could ultimately dish out more than $55 billion to Musk over 10 years if Tesla hits a series of required financial milestones by 2028, including a market capitalization of $650 billion. The company’s current market value is over $350 billion, as of Tuesday.

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