INSANE Things Elon Musk Spends His Billions On
Here's how Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, spends his billions on insane things.Money
With an estimated net worth of $192 billion as of 2023, Elon Musk is both the on-again-off-again richest man in the world, and one of its most controversial figures. Depending on who you ask, he’s viewed as either a revolutionary inventor or a villain straight out of a James Bond movie.
But public opinions aside, Elon stands as an example of how, while money can’t always buy you happiness, it can buy you a load of really cool stuff. Let's check out what the world’s richest man does with all his cash, looking at private jets, luxury mansions and full-blown rocket ships, as we explore how Elon Musk spends his fortune!
Elon Musk's Car Collection
Elon is famously the CEO of Tesla, the world’s largest electric car company. However, his passion for cars isn’t limited to electric vehicles, and the billionaire has owned a number of gas-guzzlers over the years.
This includes a $35,000 1967 Jaguar E-Type, which is an iconic sports car that Enzo Ferrari once described as ‘the most beautiful car in the world.’
Musk also notably owns a 1920 Ford Model T, a true vintage classic that can fetch up to $246,000 at auction. That’s a lot for a car that you need to wind up before starting. However, it’s believed that Musk’s vehicle was a gift from a friend, so the billionaire probably got it for free, which goes to show that, when you’re rich enough, sometimes you don’t need to spend at all!
With a top speed of 45mph, Model Ts aren’t winning any races, but Musk definitely isn’t stuck in the slow lane, previously owning a 1997 McLaren F1 worth $1 Million. With a top speed of 240 mph, Musk has publicly called the car the ‘best vehicle ever.’
Unfortunately, he crashed it back in 2000 while showing its speed off to a fellow businessman. The crash didn’t deter Elon from driving though, and the billionaire went on to buy a 2006 Hamann BMW M5 for $103,000, and a 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo for $160,000.
Musk’s collection is already pretty impressive, but the pride and joy of his garage is undoubtedly the 1976 Lotus Esprit, a $997,000 car that was literally driven by James Bond. The Esprit is one of double-oh-7’s most iconic vehicles, and this modified, fully amphibious, submarine car featured in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Elon actually bought the version of the Esprit that they used to shoot the submarine scenes, meaning that his vehicle is fitted with four propellers instead of wheels, made for cruising around underwater.
Unfortunately, the car can’t actually drive on land, but after buying the vehicle in 2013, Musk said that he’d try and convert it into a fully amphibious, transforming vehicle using Tesla tech. Sadly, he hasn’t yet been able to convert the car, so his 007 aspirations remain a pipe-dream for now.
Private Jet Fleet
Let’s move from Elon’s garage to his aircraft hangar, checking out how the world’s richest man catches a flight. Unsurprisingly, Elon doesn’t sit with crying babies in a coach, and when he needs to travel, he generally flies around in one of his 3 private jets.
Musk’s favorite, and most expensive jet, is the 2015 Gulfstream 650ER, a top-of-the-range plane that cost him a staggering $70 million. The 650ER is like a mobile mansion, with space for 19 people to eat caviar, drink champagne and laugh at poor people.
For any of us, owning one private jet is insane, but Musk also owns 2 Gulfstream G550s, slightly older jets that cost around $42 Million apiece. In 2022, Musk was called out online for taking a 9-minute, 33-mile flight from San Francisco to San Jose, a journey that would take around 40 minutes by car.
He also reportedly flew over 160,000 miles in 2018 alone, the equivalent of flying around the entire planet 6 times. People pointed out that as the owner of the world’s biggest supposedly ‘eco-friendly’ car company, Musk’s frivolous use of his private jet is pretty hypocritical, due to its impact on the environment.
Private jets do, after all, tend to produce about 50 times the CO2 emissions per person versus driving a regular, non-electric car. Elon has justified this by claiming that he doesn’t take any vacations, and he solely uses the jets for work. Whether that’s true or not, if his work requires him to take a 33-mile trip, a lot of people seem to think he should probably just use a company car.
Yacht or Not?
Let’s drop from the skies to the sea, checking out how Elon travels out in the ocean. You’re probably picturing Elon sailing around in a mega yacht, topped off with a pool and a helicopter. In reality, Musk doesn’t own a yacht at all, instead owning a fleet of ships with a very specific purpose: catching rocket-ships as they fall back down to Earth.
Musk is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, a company that’s trying to revolutionize space-travel. Usually, when a rocket leaves the atmosphere, it sheds most of its components, letting its booster rockets, fuel tanks and nose fairing fall back to Earth.
These components are either burned up by the atmosphere or completely destroyed when they hit the ocean, wasting millions of dollars per launch. For years, private aerospace companies have acknowledged that they could save a lot of money by recovering these rocket parts and reusing them on later missions.
After a lot of trial and error, SpaceX became one of the first companies to achieve the feat, thanks to their fleet of over 15 highly specialized boats that catch their self-steering rockets.
Each ship has a different function, boasting large pads for rocket boosters to land on, or giant nets to catch other loose components. Musk and SpaceX spent over $1 Billion developing the reusable rockets, and the fleet of boats likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.
However, they’ve allowed SpaceX to conduct several recovery missions, meaning that Musk is probably the first billionaire who’s saved money by buying boats.
Unreal Real Estate Portfolio
Despite being a billionaire, Musk has stated that he isn’t interested in living a life of luxury. Even so, the wealthy Mr. Musk famously owns a ruby encrusted Tesla ring, though it was given to him by celebrity jeweler Ben Baller.
Elon reportedly refuses to spend his own money on expensive jewelry, and has stated he isn’t that interested in excessive personal purchases in general. In fact, the only superficial thing that he’s known to have spent his fortune on is a hair transplant, a procedure that would have cost him around 20 to 30 thousand dollars.
But aside from that stuff, it seems Musk is committed to rejecting a life of luxury for the most part. In fact, back in 2020, he announced a plan to sell almost all of his physical possessions, including all of his real estate.
Up until that point, Musk had been collecting mansions like Pokémon cards, owning 6 different properties in Los Angeles alone. Somera Road is a luxurious Cul-de-Sac in Bel-Air, boasting 5 gigantic mansions. At one point, Musk owned 3 of them, the neighboring properties costing him $4.3 million, $6.4 million, and $24.25 million.
Just one road over lies Chalon Road, another street that used to hold 3 of Musk’s properties, including his largest Bel-Air home. 10911 Chalon Road is a 16,000 square-foot mansion featuring 7 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a two-story library, a swimming pool, and a tennis court.
The $29 million house was reportedly Elon’s main home while he was living in LA, but that didn’t stop him from buying another $20 Million mansion, and a $6.75 Million house on the very same road; that’s probably one way to make sure you get along with your neighbors.
Outside of L.A., Elon owned his most luxurious home to date, a 7-bed, 10-bathroom mansion in Hillsborough, California. The $30 million mansion was built in 1912, and it comes equipped with sprawling corridors, a gigantic kitchen, and a cocktail room, all sitting on over 47 acres of land.
In 2021, Elon delivered on his promise, selling all of these properties and moving into a Boxabl Tiny House. The Boxabl ‘Casita’ is a 375-square-foot prefabricated building, which costs just $50,000 to buy, and the team at Boxabl will ship it straight to you, on the back of a flatbed truck.
Musk did reportedly live in the Boxabl for a while, however, locals living in Boca Chica, Texas, close to the SpaceX South Texas launch site, have said that Musk also owns a $200,000, three-bed home in the town.
Musk has reportedly fitted the modest home with an 8-foot wall, a ton of security cameras, and a kids playhouse in the shape of a rocket ship, so it’s a little obvious that the property belongs to a rocket-obsessed billionaire, not a standard family of four.
All in all, Elon spends most of his money on his businesses, including arguably his most successful venture: Tesla. Today, Tesla is the biggest electric car manufacturer in the world, boasting a range of cars with impressive top speeds, auto-pilot, and bullet-proof windows.
Well, the bullet-proof thing didn't go well for him because of the epic failure of the Cybertruck's bulletproof windows. Regardless, Musk is best known for being Tesla’s CEO, but interestingly, he didn’t actually start the company.
Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, two engineers with a passion for electric vehicles. This business caught the attention of a young Elon, who started investing heavily in the company.
With $175 million in his pocket after selling his shares in the last company he’d helped lead to success, PayPal, he wound up investing over $30 million in Tesla within a few years of coming on board in 2004.
As the company’s largest shareholder, Musk started to gain more control of the business, and in 2008, he became Tesla’s CEO, also gaining the title of ‘co-founder’ due to his financial contributions.
From that point on, Musk was heavily involved in the development of Tesla’s electric cars, and recently the company has reached a market cap of over $644 Billion. The high value of Musk’s Tesla shares means he earns a lot of money from Tesla, but he also puts a lot of money into the business and directs how the company’s considerable funds are spent.
In 2014, Musk started building Tesla Gigafactories, giant buildings used to construct Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries and other electric car components. So far, Tesla has built 5 Gigafactories, including the Gigafactory Texas, a 3800-foot long structure that’s the second largest building in the world by volume.
This single factory, which is as long as 15 city blocks, reportedly cost Tesla at least $1.06 billion to build. With 4 other existing gigafactories spread across the globe, and another currently in development, the project is taking a giant giga-bite out of Tesla’s Musk-controlled bank account. But, as they say, you gotta spend money to make money!
Rocket N Roll
Becoming the richest man on Earth is a pretty impressive achievement, but for Elon, being the wealthiest person on one planet isn’t good enough. When Elon founded SpaceX in 2002, he had two clear goals in mind: develop a reusable rocket and colonize Mars.
As you can imagine, getting humans 140 million miles away to Mars isn’t cheap, so Elon has poured a lot of his own money into SpaceX over the years, almost bankrupting himself in the process.
Musk wasn’t always a billionaire, and back in 2008, a divorce from his first wife left him with just $30 million to his name. That might sound like a lot, but Elon had 2 businesses to run, and he was forced to use most of his money to keep SpaceX and Tesla afloat.
This decision paid off, and by 2012, Tesla shares became so valuable that Musk became a billionaire for the first time. And, by continuing to invest in SpaceX, he helped it to slowly grow into the $137 billion company that it is today.
As of 2022, SpaceX has launched a car into space, and spent a billion dollars developing the reusable rocket, however, Elon’s dream of colonizing Mars is still a long way off.
Experts at NASA have said that a single manned mission to Mars would cost around $100 billion, and if Musk wants to build a society on the red planet, SpaceX will have to make several trips. This means that the venture is currently just too expensive, even for the world’s richest man.
But maybe if Elon keeps coming up with crazy novelty schemes to make money, like the $10 million he made selling a limited range of flamethrowers, or the $1 million he made from selling ‘burnt hair’-scented perfume, he might get to Mars eventually!
Rockets aren’t the only thing that Elon wants to put up in space, and his next business venture involves putting new stars in the sky. The star-like things in the clip below might look like a new constellation or an alien invasion, but it’s actually ‘Starlink,’ SpaceX’s take on satellite internet.
‘Starlink’ is composed of around 2,000 small satellites spinning in low Earth orbit, wirelessly connected to dishes placed on the ground. The system works just like ordinary satellite internet. If you use a satellite connection, then when you browse something on the internet, your computer beamed a request up to a satellite, asking for the webpage.
The satellite then sent that request down to the offices of your internet service provider, who grabbed your browsed page from their internet servers, and sent it back up to the satellite. At this point, the satellite sent it back down to your dish, allowing you to see the page on your screen.
All this occurs over a split-second, but can be inconsistent, so ordinary satellite internet is still criticized for its slow connection speeds versus standard cable internet. In contrast, Starlink satellites orbit the Earth much closer to the ground, allegedly making the connection as fast as cable broadband.
The project is still in its infancy, but in 2021, Musk said that he plans on investing up to $30 billion into Starlink, eventually adding 42,000 satellites to the system. In theory, this number of satellites could provide the entire planet with internet access, connecting people in the world’s most remote areas to the web, and allowing everyone on Earth to use the internet.
Twitter Under Elon Musk
Why does Elon want to connect the entire planet to the internet? It might be because he wants every human on Earth to sign up for his newly acquired Social Media platform, Twitter. Elon may have been married 3 times, but his one true love is Twitter, and the billionaire has been an avid user of the platform since creating his account in 2009.
In October 2022, Musk took this love affair to the next step, by purchasing the company for $44 Billion, and firing their CEO, CFO and other top executives. According to Elon, a lot will change under his management.
In response to what he perceives as censorship on the platform, he’s aiming to make Twitter a space where anybody can share their opinion, as long as it falls within the lines of the law. Musk has also expressed a desire to clear the platform of fake accounts, which he believes are more prevalent than Twitter’s previous bosses admit.
Unsurprisingly, Elon shared the news of his purchase via a series of tweets when he made his initial bid in April 2022. While he, interestingly, at one point attempted to pull out of the deal due to his concerns about the numbers of bots on the site, Twitter had him in a contractual headlock, and the deal was forcibly finalized in October.
Once the deal was completed, Elon predictably Tweeted, telling the world that ‘the bird is freed’. The bird has definitely been let out of the cage, though it’s hard to say whether a less-restricted, more open Twitter will be a peaceful dove that brings us all closer together, or a vulture that tears us apart.
Neuralink Brain Chip
With plans for self-driving cars and houses on Mars, lots of Elon’s projects feel ripped from the script of a sci-fi movie. In 2016, Elon continued this trend by starting Neuralink, a company that’s developing brain implants to literally turn people into cyborgs.
When you do something physical like lifting your hand into the air, your brain sends out electrical signals that travel to your muscles and tell them to move. The Neuralink implants being developed are designed to be implanted directly into people’s skulls, sitting on the surface of their brain, where they can detect those aforementioned electrical signals.
The implants will then process the information to digitally understand what commands your brain is giving. The Neuralink could then, for example, wirelessly connect to a prosthetic hand and instruct it to move, essentially allowing a quadriplegic or amputee, whose bodies cannot deliver those signals to muscles naturally, to control the prosthetic with their mind.
On a simpler scale, the Neuralink could be used in place of a mouse and keyboard as a way to interface with a computer. Both are amazing ideas that might sound far-fetched, but let's investigate how Neuralink’s research has played out so far.
Elon has invested over $100 Million into the company, and when Neuralink placed their technology inside the brain of a monkey, it yielded some incredible results. They started by teaching a monkey how to play the videogame ‘Pong’ with a joystick, before implanting him with a Neuralink device and connecting it to the game, rewarding the monkey with food through a straw.
As its neurons started to fire off, the Neuralink began to recognize which brain signals corresponded to specific hand movements, for various joystick directions. Once the Neuralink had established this connection, they unplugged the joystick, and suddenly, the monkey was literally controlling the game with his mind!
Musk hopes to use the technology on real humans, but implanting a chunk of metal into someone’s brain is a pretty dangerous procedure, so he hasn’t got the approval to test the device on people yet. In fact, it has been confirmed by Neuralink that the monkey had to be euthanized.
The Boring Company
Elon’s goals for Mars travel and mind-controlled-tech are pretty extraordinary; however, the billionaire has another life-mission that’s a bit more relatable: avoiding traffic.
In 2016, Elon got stuck in L.A. traffic, and instead of honking is horn or revving his engine, he decided to create a new company. The Boring Company is Elon’s tunnel construction business, intending to use Tunnel Boring Machines to dig giant tunnels underneath cities for roads.
The system will comprise of multiple layers of tunnels filled with Tesla’s, that can use their self-driving capabilities to pick passengers up, drive them as fast as 150mph to various stations dotted along the tunnel in great numbers.
This would supposedly be much faster than ordinary methods of public transport, as the cars wouldn’t stop at every station like a regular train, instead taking passengers directly to their destination station. And according to Musk, it will also be much cheaper to develop.
Currently, digging a subway tunnel in a city like New York costs up to $2.5 billion per mile. The Boring Company claims that they can dig tunnels that are smaller in diameter, developing a more efficient boring machine, giving their tunnels a price-tag of just $10 million per mile.
In theory, these low prices will allow cities to build giant underground transport networks without breaking the bank. However, when The Boring Company’s first loop tunnel was showcased in Las Vegas in 2021, it wasn’t quite what people were expecting.
People noted that it was essentially a 1.5 mile long, single-lane tunnel with no emergency exits, and no places for cars to pass if there was a car crash or a fire. The Tesla’s could also only safely drive at 30mph, a far cry from the 150mph journeys that Musk had promised years before.
The Boring Company’s tunnels still have a long way to go, but in the meantime, Elon’s also investing in the merchandise side of things. When it came to merch for the Boring Company, Elon decided to do something a bit more original.
In December 2017, Musk announced that if The Boring Company sold 50,000 hats, they’d start selling a flamethrower, that same one that was mentioned earlier in the article. By January, the hats were sold out, and Elon came through on his promise.
Elon wasn’t allowed to call the product a ‘flamethrower,’ for legal reasons, but the ‘Not-A-Flamethrower’ can shoot flames at just under 10-feet, creating a pretty impressive fireball. The $500 gadgets sold out immediately, and they now fetch up to $4000 on eBay. That’s a pretty steep price tag, but there are worse ways to burn through your money.
Astra Nova School
Elon Musk has some pretty strong opinions about the education system, so back in 2014 he founded Ad Astra, a special private school designed for his 5 sons and the children of SpaceX employees, where kids have more say in what they learn.
When interviewed in 2017, one teacher explained that their curriculum includes lessons in coding, artificial intelligence, TED-Talk style public speaking, and ‘applied science,’ which largely involves learning how to use chemistry to blow stuff up.
Initially, Ad Astra was free for the parents, with Musk donating $475,000 in 2014 and 2015 to keep the school running. However, this project has now developed into Astra Nova, a private online school that’s accessible to everybody, as long as they pay a $32,500 annual fee, and their kids pass an entrance test.
With Ad Astra and Astra Nova, Musk has been able to create a new generation of mad scientists, while also giving his kids a unique schooling experience. He’s also managed to make the only school where his son, X AE A-12, won’t get picked on for his name.
Building a school is a pretty cool way for a billionaire to spend their money and it shows that Musk’s spending isn’t all about fireballs and explosions. In 2012, Musk also signed The Giving Pledge, joining 236 of the world’s richest people by promising to donate at least half of his wealth to charity during his lifetime.
Throughout his career, Elon has given a large amount of money through his own non-profit, The Musk Foundation, donating over $247 Million in support of renewable energy, space exploration, pediatrics, and education.
Musk doesn’t only give donations in cash though. In 2021, he gave $5.7 billion of Tesla shares away to a select group of charities, making him the second most charitable donor in America that year, sitting just behind Bill and Melinda Gates. That’s a pretty sizable chunk of money, and Musk has stated that his charitable donations will increase over the next 20 years, when Tesla becomes more stable.
But charity isn’t the only expenditure that doesn’t net Elon a return on investment. It turns out that not everyone is a fan of Elon’s often-controversial Twitter account, including some branches of the U.S. government.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, is a government agency designed to prevent manipulation of the stock market, stopping people from using insider trading to make themselves more money. And the billionaire has run into trouble with the SEC a few times during his career.
In 2018, Musk tweeted that he had obtained the funding to make Tesla a private company, an action that caused their stock price to skyrocket.
It turns out, there was no evidence that Musk had actually obtained the funding, meaning that the tweet had misled investors, while simultaneously increasing the value of Elon’s own Tesla shares.
According to the SEC, this is a form of fraud, and Musk was forced to pay a $20 million fine to the government. This fine cost Musk more money than most earn in a lifetime, however, the penalty was just 0.1% of his net worth at the time, which is roughly the same as an average working American receiving a speeding ticket.
When Elon was asked whether he regretted the tweet a few months later, he said it was ‘worth it,’ viewing the multimillion-dollar penalty as nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
At this point, we’ve built Elon a pretty impressive resume, however, his list of business ventures and investments doesn’t end there. Musk has invested into so many companies that it's almost impossible to go into all of them in detail, so let's introduce some of the highlights.
Solar Panels: Throughout his career, Musk has invested heavily in Solar City, one of America’s largest installers of Home Solar Panels. Tesla eventually acquired the company for $2.6 billion in 2016.
E-Commerce: In 2011, Elon and four other businessmen invested a combined $20 million into Stripe, a new online payment company that hosts online shopping for websites. Ten years later, the investment has paid off, and Stripe is now worth around $74 billion.
Sci-Fi Brain Scanners: In 2015, Musk invested in NeuroVigil, a company that built the world’s first portable brain monitor, the iBrain. The invention is essentially a big hat that can analyze electrical signals in the brain, helping to diagnose patients with neurological diseases.
These are just a few examples of Elon Musk’s investments, showing how the mogul has spent billions of dollars on other people’s companies, putting money into ideas that he believes in. It turns out ‘Musk’s Money’ is spread out all over the place! There you go, this is how Elon Musk spends his fortune.