Power Players

How Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk spends his billions

Share
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Elon Musk's net worth soared in 2020, as Tesla's surging stock price is up by more than 700% since the start of last year.

Now, the electric automaker's CEO has even topped Amazon's Jeff Bezos as the world's wealthiest person, CNBC reported on Thursday.

Musk owns over 20% of Tesla's stock, a stake that's now worth well over $150 billion, thanks to the electric automaker's ongoing stock surge. Tesla's market value has climbed above $760 billion, as of Thursday afternoon, after the company set new sales records and reported its fifth consecutive profitable quarter in 2020.

Tesla's billionaire CEO, who is also the chief executive of SpaceX and founder of The Boring Company, jumped up the billionaire rankings throughout 2020. After starting the year with a net worth of nearly $30 billion, Musk was the billionaire who grew his personal wealth the most in 2020, adding well over $140 billion to his fortune last year.

Elon Musk after the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Saul Martinez | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Research firm Wealth-X previously provided CNBC Make It with a breakdown of Musk's assets, and the rest of Musk's net worth includes a stake in private aerospace start-up SpaceX that Wealth-X valued at $15.3 billion in August 2020, along with cash and other substantial holdings, including multiple multimillion-dollar real estate holdings.

So how does the world's wealthiest person 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.

TWEET 

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.

VIDEO1:0901:09
Jay Leno and Elon Musk Ride Tesla's Cybertruck into Boring Company Tunnel in Jay Leno's Garage

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.)

National Motor Museum | Heritage Images | Getty Images

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 start-up DeepMind and the neurotechnology start-up 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

Musk's more than $150 billion stake in Tesla accounts for the vast majority of his total net worth, followed by his SpaceX holdings, which Wealth-X values at $15.3 billion. The private aerospace corporation made history in 2020 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 $3.5 billion), and the package could ultimately pay Musk more than $55 billion in overall bonuses should various further financial incentives be met, including Tesla's market value maintaining an average of more than $650 billion over six months. 

This article was updated to include the news of Musk becoming the world's wealthiest person.

Check out: The best credit cards of 2021 could earn you over $1,000 in 5 years

Don't miss:

VIDEO9:4709:47
How Elon Musk's SpaceX made NASA cool again