What Elon Musk's Private Life Is Really Like

Elon Musk has been somewhat derisively dubbed "The King of Mars" – a name he rejects, notes Vanity Fair. It's certainly true the Tesla mogul and SpaceX founder has his head in the clouds. The richest man in history has a fluctuating net worth of around a quarter of a trillion dollars, per Forbes, but he's much less cautious in his public persona than his fellow tech titans like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Mark Zuckerberg.

The thrice wed father of seven will say just about anything that comes to mind. His lack of filter earned him his spacey nom de plume as he famously floats far-fetched ideas like terraforming Mars with atomic weapons. "Nuke Mars!" he said succinctly in 2019, via his Twitter, the public's mainline to Musk's agile brain. Musk will just float stuff like this, but since it's conceivable he could pull it off, it became a borderline international incident when Russia's space chief accused him of an "inhumane" re-ignition of the cold war, per The Hill.

Musk's candor has also earned him an army of devoted fanboys, the Musketeers, who put their money where Musk's mouth is – like in 2021 when he made a joke-crypto into a genuine bubble market. Is this man playing 3D chess or just goofing off? Who is this eccentric visionary, really? Fortunately, earth's most polymathic aspiring martian has given us a far greater volume of personal details than his more grounded peers.

Elon Musk is estranged from his 'evil' father

What drives a man to reach for the stars? Elon Musk thinks a lot about his abusive but brilliant estranged father – a man he credits for his intellect. He describes Errol Musk as almost a supernaturally malignant force who would "plan evil." Musk broke down in tears describing their relationship to Rolling Stone in 2017.

"Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done. Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done." Elon says Errol wasn't often violent with him but recounts a time when his father killed three armed men who broke into their family home. The incident was self-defense, but Elon hints at darker memories too. "He was such a terrible human being," Elon recounts. "It's so terrible, you can't believe it." Tears rolling, Elon admits, "I can't remember the last time I cried."

Elon also says Errol often called him an "idiot" and predicted Elon would come crawling home as a failure. While Elon became fantastically wealthy, perhaps he still had something to prove to his father. He moved Errol, Errol's new wife, and Errol's other children to Malibu. He bought them a home, a car, and a boat. But the relationship soured again and the two remain estranged today. "In my experience, there is nothing you can do ... I tried threats, rewards, intellectual arguments, emotional arguments, everything to try to change my father for the better, and he ... no way, it just got worse."

He stays busy raising his seven kids

Elon Musk may have been shaped by an unsteady home life, but he has himself become a father eight times over. He has seven living children, five of whom are mostly grown up. Musk's first child died of SIDS in 2000 at just 10 weeks. He and his first wife Justine Musk next had twins, then triplets, both conceived via IVF, according to Business Insider.

His schedule involves so much travel for work, however, between Tesla and SpaceX, he doesn't have as much family time as he'd like. He spends much of his very limited leisure time working remotely while being a dad, as attested by a very normal Instagram photo of his youngest, baby X, pulling on his shirt.

Musk loves kids and often says in public that more people should have a family. "I think babies are super cool and really people need to have more babies because, it sounds obvious, but if people don't have enough babies, humanity will disappear," he told The New York Times in 2020."You guys should all have kids," Musk also told a crowd at South by Southwest (via Business Insider), while revealing his multitasking parenting style, "I don't see mine enough actually. But what I find is I'm able to be with them and still be on email. I can be with them and still be working at the same time ... If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to get my job done."

He has money troubles too

The richest man in recorded history doesn't seem like he'd be strapped for cash. But you don't get to be worth roughly $250 billion if you don't bet it all on yourself. Elon Musk nearly lost it all in 2008, and again in 2018. The second calamity he called "excruciating," via The New York Times.

In 2008, Musk was going through a divorce. He'd also invested every penny of his $180 million payout from PayPal into Tesla and SpaceX. He had to borrow cash from friends just to get by. "I never thought I was someone who could ever be capable of a nervous breakdown," he told CBS News. "I felt this is the closest I've ever come. Because it seemed pretty, pretty dark."

Then, in 2018, Musk hit a new low. The production of his Tesla Model 3 nearly broke him. A driver was killed when the self-driving car crashed on a freeway. Production delays began tanking Tesla stock. Musk started looking to take his electric car company private — the markets erupted in a furor. He revealed via Twitter that Tesla was "about a month" from bankruptcy. Musk was taking Ambien to sleep and friends and family became concerned about his health. He struggled to hold back tears as he confessed, "This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career." By late 2021 though, Tesla was "smashing" production quotas and Musk's performance was called a "jaw-dropper" by experts

Elon Musk and Grimes' unpronounceable baby name

Elon Musk has been married three times. His most recent long-term relationship is an it's-complicated situation with musician Grimes. The two were never wed, but Grimes announced she was pregnant with a baby bump photo via her Instagram in 2020. They welcomed their first child later that year and then announced a surprise split in 2021. However, they remained close despite the official breakup, according to Los Angeles Times

As the two navigate their life after the more traditional relationship ended, they switched focus to co-parenting their child they both call "X." Initially, the duo announced their baby's unique name as "X Æ A-12," even though numbers are also not allowed in names in California, according to People. Grimes took to Twitter to break down the unusual name: "X, the unknown variable ... Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence) ... A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft)," Grimes wrote. If that wasn't perfectly clarifying, she added the plane she named her baby after, "No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent + (A=Archangel, my favorite song)." That's when Musk cut in with a pedantic correction. "SR-71, but yes."

Musk told Joe Rogan that Grimes came up with the name but had a slightly different take than his ex (via the Los Angeles Times) "I mean, it's just 'X' — the letter X — and then the A-E is, like, pronounced 'ash. And then 'A-12' is my contribution ... Archangel 12, the precursor to the SR-71 — coolest plane ever."

Elon Musk and Grimes have a second baby in secret

In 2022 news broke that Elon Musk and Grimes had welcomed a second baby. The difference this time is the pair had intended to keep it secret.

Their daughter was actually delivered in December 2021, though no one knew until Grimes gave an interview with Vanity Fair published in April 2022. No baby bump photos had spoiled the news because the couple used a surrogate, due to complications with the first pregnancy, Grimes revealed. Grimes also explained the baby's very on-brand name: Exa Dark Sideræl Musk, or "Y" for short, a logical follow-up to the couple's previous child together, baby "X." "Exa" is a supercomputing term, "dark" is a reference to dark matter, and "Sideræl" is a nod to "Lord Of The Rings."

The most interesting revelation though is that Musk and Grimes supposedly didn't mean to share any of this. Vanity Fair reporter Devin Gordon heard a baby crying when he entered the couple's home and knew that baby X was away. Grimes initially demurred, but as the cries continued, she ended up spilling the details. She intimates that she and Musk agreed to handle this baby differently. "I'm not at liberty to speak on these things. Whatever is going on with family stuff, I just feel like kids need to stay out of it, and X is just out there ...I think E is really seeing him as a protégé and bringing him to everything and stuff."

He plans on having even more kids

The news of the birth of baby Exa or "Y" made Elon Musk a father of seven total children, and according to Grimes, he wants even more.

Grimes followed her apparently accidental revelation of baby Exa to Vanity Fair with the further disclosure that she and Musk have long been planning to add even more kids to their clan. "We've always wanted at least three or four," she admitted to the magazine in 2022. But that doesn't mean the couple want to return their relationship to conventional territory. Grimes went on to say that romantically, things were going to remain somewhat undefined. "There's no real word for it," the singer mused. "I would probably refer to him as my boyfriend, but we're very fluid."

Raising two children together and further family planning also does not alter their separate living arrangements. Musk prefers things neat, and Grimes has more chaotic interior design sensibilities, adorning her home with anime art pieces she finds on Etsy. The duo do congregate in a home in Austin near Musk's corporate headquarters, but as the singer explained, "We live in separate houses. We're best friends. We see each other all the time ... We just have our own thing going on, and I don't expect other people to understand it." Grimes also declared she and Elon were happier than ever in this arrangement. "This is the best it's ever been ...We just need to be free."

Elon Musk and Grimes suspect they live in The Matrix

Isn't the definition of a great relationship just getting weird with someone you love? Considering Elon Musk is a polymath engineer and Grimes a futurist musician, it's not a surprise the pair get into philosophical discussions about the nature of reality. Grimes says her billionaire "boyfriend" even wonders if she is some sort of computer simulation. "E's like, 'Are you real? Or are we living in my memory, and you're like a synthesized companion that was created to be my companion here?'" she recalled to Vanity Fair.

Musk is here referencing what's often called "the simulation argument" put forward by philosophers like Nick Bostrom, and others. The premise is simple: if humans start designing realistic simulations, those simulations could create their own simulations, and very quickly, simulated universes would outnumber real ones. So at any given time, statistically, each of us is much more likely to be living inside a computer than some base reality.

Puff, puff, pass "bro," which is another way Grimes often refers to Musk. These conversations appear to be a regular feature of the couple's unconventional romance. Grimes hints at the range of issues as she often drops heady science concepts in casual conversation like "protopia," "Overton window," and "neuroplasticity." Surprisingly, however, given Musk's Mars ambitions, Grimes admits the two haven't spoken about actually going to the red planet together. She says "hopefully" they will, but admits, "he'll probably go and then I'll come later."

He stays on good terms with his exes

Even though Elon Musk and Grimes announced a split in 2021, the relationship was in no way over. "We are semi-separated but still love each other, see each other frequently, and are on great terms," Musk told Page Six. He added that Grimes was "staying with me now," and that baby X was in an adjacent room.

When Musk's Tesla headquarters moved to Texas, it put a strain on their relationship. "We weren't seeing each other that much, and I think this is to some degree a long-term thing," he told Time in 2021, "because what she needs to do is mostly in L.A. or touring, and my work is mostly in remote locations like this."

It's not surprising Musk and Grimes have stayed close. Musk is also still technically co-parenting with first wife Justine Musk – though his youngest from that marriage are his triplets who are nearly grown. Musk also married actress Talulah Riley twice during a long relationship that ended in 2016. Even after all that Riley wasn't ruling out a third chance at love with the mogul. "Elon and I are best friends. We still see each other all the time and take care of each other," she told the Mail Online tabloid in 2016. "If this could continue indefinitely it would be lovely. When you've been with someone for eight years on and off, you really learn how to love them. He and I are very good at loving each other..."

He is a workaholic

The distinction between private life and public is getting fuzzy for everyone but especially for tech moguls who are addicted to the grind. Musk is famous for superhuman works weeks, telling Recode Decode in 2018 he regularly puts in a grueling 120 hours. "Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week," he explained via Twitter that year. So what does a personal life even mean at that point? 

When Musk was founding his first company with little brother Kimbal Musk, he worked so much that if his girlfriend wanted to see him, she had to sleep over in his office, the Tesla titan recalled during a commencement address in 2014. Not much has changed since those hard-scrabble startup days. Musk told CBS This Morning in 2018 he often sleeps on what looks like a particularly uncomfortable couch in a conference room of his Tesla offices. "It's terrible. It's not a good couch," Musk admitted. But it's not his worst slumber spot. Sometimes he just straight up sleeps on the factory floor.

This prompted an online campaign to get the mogul a better sofa. The "Buy Elon Musk A Couch" GoFundMe page quickly raised over $7,000 for the billionaire entrepreneur to get somewhere softer to sleep. An adjacent campaign for bedding was unnecessary though. As Musk explained during a conference call in 2016 (via BGR), "I have a sleeping bag in a conference room next to the production line that I use quite frequently."

Elon Musk is technically single and hates it

Elon Musk is technically unattached. Following his supposed split with Grimes in 2021, he started spending much of his time at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The futuristic digs are an engineer's dream but might be a bit lonely. "This place is basically like a technology monastery," he told Time in 2021. "There are some women here, but not many. And it's remote."

Musk has a disarming way of plain speaking. He's equally straightforward whether he's talking about the dangers to humanity that have sent his ambitions to space, or his own anxieties about love. In 2017, he made it clear to Rolling Stone the single life is not for him. "If I'm not in love, if I'm not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy." He strongly disagrees this qualifies as co-dependence. "I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me." 

Maybe part of why he's known to sleep on the factory floor at Tesla or in the odd conference room is he hates going home to an "empty house." It's a real paradox for a man who has put his grand global ambitions ahead of everything else. He describes dreading the sound of "footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you ... How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that? ... I never want to be alone."

He lives in a tiny home

"The richest man in the world does not own a house," begins Elon Musk's Time Man of the Year interview in 2021. That's right. This ultra-billionaire says he mostly resides in a tidy prefab home near his office. "My primary home is literally a ~50k house in Boca Chica/Starbase that I rent from SpaceX. It's kinda awesome though," he wrote via Twitter in 2021. He said he did own an "events house" in the San Francisco area, which he portrayed as a business-facing property. (He's since sold it.)

The Wall Street Journal, however, took issue with Musk's effort to "portray himself as a man of modest tastes." After Tesla relocated headquarters to Austin in 2021, they claim he's been living in an "extravagant" waterfront estate that was at one point the most expensive home in the vast Lone Star State. It was listed at $12 million in 2018 and is worth "multiples" of that now. Musk is also alleged to have been looking at mansions in the area to purchase.

Musk's alleged Austin crash pad is owned by his longtime friend Ken Howery, who also made his initial fortune at PayPal. Howery, Musk, and investor Peter Thiel are considered the "PayPal Mafia" in tech circles. Musk's stay at the home has been very hush-hush claims the report. Howery and Musk both, however, strongly deny the story. Musk told Insider, "I don't live there and am not looking to buy a house anywhere."

He has a burner account

Breaking down the Twitter habits of Elon Musk would require its own voluminous article. From sending financial markets scurrying, to publicizing problems in his love life, to his viral feud with Elizabeth Warren, whom he dubbed "Senator Karen," one thing is clear: the tech billionaire is just as addicted to social media as anyone else.

Musk has also admitted the time he spends online isn't always healthy. "I think it's good anyway to take a few breaks from Twitter and not be on there 24 hours a day," he told Vox's Recode Decode in 2018. "Twitter can mess with your mind." He added, "If you're going down a negative rabbit hole on Twitter, it can make you miserable, that's for sure."

Musk says he doesn't have a personal Facebook page. Tesla and SpaceX both deleted their Facebook pages too, he explained to The New York Times in 2020. "SpaceX and Tesla do have an Instagram but I think it's relatively harmless. So I think Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg still have a lot of work to do to restore public trust in Facebook itself." Musk also admits to using a "secret" Instagram burner to check links. He claims his Twitter use is down to 15 minutes a day but still sees the platform as essential for his process. "It feels like dipping into the flow of consciousness of society," Musk told Vox. "Some people use their hair to express themselves; I use Twitter."

He is a lifelong gamer

Engineering whiz Elon Musk, maybe unsurprisingly, has always been a gamer. He told a crowd at a game convention in 2019 that games are "the reason" he got into tech in the first place, per CNBC.

The serial entrepreneur's first venture was actually a PC game he designed when he was 12 years old called "Blaster," according to The Verge. Pre-teen Musk sold the game's original code for $500 to a small company called PC and Office Technology. The game's object is to destroy an alien ship by timing shots for impact, kind of like a pared-down version of angry birds. It's even available to play online here.

Despite Musk's overwhelming work schedule and his seven children, his love of gaming somehow persists. In 2021, he called the extremely involved dystopian role-playing game "Cyberpunk 2077," released in 2020, a "great game," via his Twitter. He also shouted out "Halo." (You'd have to actually be a gamer to decode the rest of his message, which seems to prove his credibility on the matter.) In 2020, he endorsed six different games, including the popular Mass Effect, Fallout, and Bioshock franchises. He also added — via Twitter, of course — that he may have missed some console-exclusive versions of his favorite games because he's still sticking to his programmer roots and gaming on his PC.

His binge-watching habits

On top of his 120 hour work week and trolling senators on Twitter, Elon Musk somehow squeezes in a bit of time to Netflix and chill. Some of Musk's binge-watch favorites are "Silicon Valley" and the technology-infused dystopian horror series "Black Mirror," according to a 2020 profile in the South China Morning Post. Musk is even streamable himself, making surprisingly competent cameos for "The Simpsons," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Iron Man 2."

Musk is also a big fan of anime and shared the trailer for the romantic fantasy "Your Name" via Twitter in 2018. It's possible Grimes turned him onto the genre considering the fantastical aesthetic of her Instagram. Musk also endorsed "Spirited Away" and expressed "love" for "Princess Mononoke," a Japanese cartoon from 1997. This earned him the nickname "Weeblon Musk," a play on "Weeaboo," a derogatory term says Forbes, which describes non-Asians with a particular fetish for Japanese culture. Going even deeper into this extremely online tech billionaire's fixations, Musk himself said he prefers the nickname "Elon-Chan."

In 2020, the singer also revealed to The New York Times that Musk is a fan of historical documentaries. "Right now, we're going back to Genghis Khan for like the third time, and the Mongols." She described Musk as somewhat "obsessed" with the legendary horse-mounted conqueror –- another globe-changing titan who is estimated to be related to 0.5% of the world's male population.

His reading ability is superhuman

Elon Musk definitely fits some of the stereotypes of the eccentric genius, and like fellow bookworm slash tech-titan Bill Gates, he's a voracious reader. While growing up in South Africa, by age nine, Musk had supposedly consumed every book in his local library, according to a somewhat hard to fathom profile in the South China Morning Post. Musk favors fantasy, sci-fi, biographies, and books about structural engineering. He called "The Lord of the Rings" his all-time favorite book in 2014, via CNN.

Musk is also a rabid consumer of niche books about the history of warfare from the Napoleonic era all the way to modern times. He takes a particular interest in the evolution of aeronautic design and loves to debate its impact on specific battles. His 2021 conversation with popular history podcaster Dan Carlin is a dizzying dive through the annals of defunct 20th-century aircraft. He even took to Twitter afterward for some pedantic corrections few were in a position to question in the first place. His favorite aircraft is obviously the Cold War spy plane the SR-71, part of the inspiration for the name of his first child with Grimes.

Fantasy, though, remains Musk's bedrock genre. Musk called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" author Douglas Adams his "favorite philosopher," via CBS News in 2019. The writer's sense of humor and cosmic perspective mirrors his own Musk explained. "What he was essentially saying is: the universe is the answer; what are the questions?"

Elon Musk's billionaire besties influenced his Twitter takeover attempt

In 2022 Twitter accepted a 44 billion buyout offer from Elon Musk. Elon initially bought a smaller share of the company, but when Twitter execs tried to saddle him with a board seat that would effectively limit his influence, he made moves to buy the whole bird. What followed was corporate maneuvering worthy of HBO's "Succession," but ultimately, Twitter succumbed to Elon's advances — pending due diligence on both sides. 

Elon Musk may have taken aim at Twitter partly on the advice of his billionaire buds, including fellow "Paypal Mafia" members Peter Thiel and David Sacks, according to The Wall Street Journal. Elon's brother Kimbal Musk was another member of what the outlet calls the "shadow crew," influencing his thinking. Elon also has a mostly online bromance with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey that could have contributed.

Elon and his billionaire BFFs aren't all business though. He actually hangs out casually with Google co-founder Larry Page. They're "bros" according to Vice. They meet to discuss big ideas, play video games, and even have sleepovers together. Page is working on artificial intelligence –- a category of innovation Musk has described as an "existential threat" to humanity. Elon however still feels his friend's heart is in the right place, and the good vibes are apparently mutual. Page is considering leaving all his money to Musk (via Wired), rather than charity, because he sees SpaceX as ultimately philanthropic: a long-game quest to find a backup planet for humanity.