Inside the turbulent personal life of Elon Musk, who had secret twins with an exec, got divorced 3 times, and has been talking to presidential hopefuls

Inside the turbulent personal life of Elon Musk, who had secret twins with an exec, got divorced 3 times, and has been talking to presidential hopefuls
  • Elon Musk is always making headlines for his personal life as well as professional achievements.

  • He's been divorced three times, dated celebrities, and has nine children, including twins.

  • Musk is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and he recently stepped down as CEO of Twitter. Keep reading for more on his wild life.

Born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk was the eldest of three children. His mother, Maye Musk, is a Canadian model who's appeared on the cover of Time and became a CoverGirl spokesperson at 69. His father Errol is an engineer.

peter thiel elon musk early paypal
Elon Musk in 1999.AP

Source: Vanity Fair, Town and Country, Vogue, Forbes


Musk told Rolling Stone he's struggled with loneliness since childhood. "When I was a child, there's one thing I said," Musk said. "'I never want to be alone.'"

Elon Musk
Elon Musk.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Source: Rolling Stone, Insider

Overall, Musk's childhood was far from idyllic. He was ruthlessly bullied in school, and even ended up hospitalized after his tormentors shoved him down a staircase. Soon after his parents split, around 1979, Musk went to live with his father, Errol — Musk told Rolling Stone that they are now estranged.

Errol Musk
Errol Musk.Denver Post Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon

Source: Insider, Rolling Stone

Musk is seemingly still close with his brother, Kimbal, and sister, Tosca. All of the Musk siblings seemingly share an entrepreneurial streak: Kimbal is seeking to make the food industry more sustainable and healthy, while Tosca launched the romance-film network Passionflix.

kimbal musk elon musk brother
Kimbal Musk, Elon's brother.Fred Prouser/Reuters

Source: CNBC, CNBC, Forbes, CNBC

Musk also seems to have a good relationship with his mother. Vanity Fair reported that he gifted Maye with a green Tesla, and she moved to California in 2013 to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She also appeared on Saturday Night Live when Elon Musk hosted in May 2021 and accompanied him to the Met Gala in 2022.

Maye Musk
Maye Musk.Danny Moloshok/Reuters

Source: Vanity Fair

He met his first wife, Justine Wilson, at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. Writing in Marie Claire, she recalled that Musk invited her out for ice cream. She decided to stay in to study, but he showed up with "two chocolate-chip ice cream cones dripping down his hands."

justine musk
Justine Musk.Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Source: Marie Claire

Musk transferred to Wharton, but kept sending Justine roses. They went their separate ways, but reconnected as Musk started working on his first startup and Justine started working on her first novel after graduation. Justine said Musk wooed her by giving her his credit card to buy as many books as she wanted. The pair tied the knot in 2000.

Wharton University of Pennsylvania
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Source: Marie Claire

The couple moved to Los Angeles and had a son named Nevada, who they lost to SIDS. They ultimately had twins and triplets — five kids in total. In 2010, Musk has called his children "the love of my life."

elon musk justine musk kids
Elon Musk, Talulah Riley, and two of his children.AP

Source: Insider, Insider, Insider




The couple split in 2008. After his divorce, Musk began dating actress Talulah Riley.

Talulah Riley and Elon Musk attend Chucs Dive & Mountain Shop's swim party at Serpentine on July 4, 2011 in London, England.
Talulah Riley and Elon Musk in 2011.Nick Harvey/WireImage/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg

While Musk and his first wife became estranged, Justine wrote in Marie Claire that she and Riley ended up getting along very well. She even sent her ex-husband's girlfriend an email saying: "I would rather live out the French-movie version of things, in which the two women become friends and various philosophies are pondered."

Talulah Riley
Talulah Riley.Jordan Strauss/AP Images

Source: Marie Claire

Riley and Musk married in 2010. Two years later, news of their divorce became public when Musk tweeted at Riley: "It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day."

Talulah Riley Elon Musk
Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: Forbes

The couple remarried in 2013. Musk filed for — then withdrew — a second divorce petition the following year.

Elon Musk Talulah Riley
Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.Evan Agostini/AP Images

Source: POPSugar

In 2016, Riley filed for divorce from Musk, and the divorce was finalized in late 2016. The two are still on good terms, however — Riley even made an appearance during Musk's Rolling Stone profile in 2017. "We still see each other all the time and take care of each other," she told People.

Elon Musk Talulah Riley
Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: Rolling Stone, People

Musk began dating actress Amber Heard in 2016, but they broke up a year later due to their intense schedules.

Amber Heard
Amber Heard.Getty Images

Source: The Cut, Rolling Stone

In a comment on one of Heard's Instagram posts, Musk said he and his ex were "still friends, remain close and love one another," and added, "who knows what the future holds." He later told Rolling Stone: "I was really in love, and it hurt bad."

elon musk
Elon Musk.Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Source: Rolling StoneThe Cut

In May 2018, Musk arrived at the annual Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art alongside Grimes, a Canadian musician. At the time, Page Six reported that the pair had been "quietly dating" for a few weeks.

Grimes Elon Musk
Musk and Grimes in 2018.Evan Agostini/AP

Source: Page Six

Grimes and Musk met over Twitter. Musk was planning to make a joke about artificial intelligence — specifically, about the Rococo Basilisk character in her "Flesh Without Blood" video — and discovered she had beaten him to the punch.

elon musk
Elon Musk.REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Source: Twitter

Musk later told The Wall Street Journal that he loves Grimes for her "wild fae artistic creativity and hyper intense work ethic."

grimes singer
Grimes.Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Source: The Wall Street Journal

In January 2020, Grimes posted a photo to her Instagram and Twitter accounts that appeared to show her pregnant. She later confirmed she was expecting a baby with Musk.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Source: Instagram, Insider

On May 4, 2020, Musk announced the birth of their son, who he and Grimes named "X Æ A-Xii Musk," seemingly pronounced "X Ash A-12." "Mom & baby all good," Musk wrote on Twitter.

Elon Musk Grimes
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Huffington Post

Source: Insider, Insider

That December, Musk said that he had moved to Texas following a months-long fight with the state of California over coronavirus lockdown restrictions. It appeared that Grimes and baby X had moved with him, and in March, he shared a family photo taken near SpaceX's facilities in South Texas.

Source: Insider, Insider

But in September 2021, Musk told Page Six that he and Grimes had broken up. "It's mostly that my work at SpaceX and Tesla requires me to be primarily in Texas or traveling overseas and her work is primarily in LA," Musk said at the time.

Elon Musk Grimes
Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Insider

But the pair continued to co-parent, and in March 2022, Grimes revealed in a Vanity Fair interview that the couple had secretly had a baby girl via surrogate named Exa Dark Sideræl Musk.

grimes singer
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Source: Insider

Grimes said "Exa" is a reference to the supercomputing term exaflops, "Dark" is about the unknown, and "Sideræl" is an "elven" spelling of sidereal, meaning "the true time of the universe," pronounced "sigh-deer-ee-el." Grimes and Musk call her Y for short.

Mike Windle/Getty Images for Coachella

Source: Insider

Grimes told Vanity Fair that she and Musk aren't back together, but their relationship is "very fluid," and they plan to have more children together.

Elon Musk and Grimes
Elon Musk and GrimesPascal Le Segretiain/Getty Images, left, and Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Source: Insider

In April 2022, Musk's 18-year-old daughter, who is transgender, applied to legally change her name to confirm her gender identity and to distance herself from Musk. In the filing, she wrote that she no longer wishes to live with or to be "related to my biological father in any way, shape or form."

Elon Musk
Elon Musk.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Insider

Musk has repeatedly mocked gender pronouns, posting tweets and memes that have drawn the ire of everyone from former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to Grimes. After Musk tweeted that "pronouns suck" in 2020, Grimes responded in a since-deleted tweet: "I cannot support hate. Please stop this."

Elon Musk
Elon Musk.Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Source: Insider, Insider

In June, Musk went on another tweetstorm targeting transgender people. After the visibility of tweets about the anti-transgender documentary "What Is a Woman?" were censored on Twitter, Musk received a wave of criticism from conservatives on the app. Later that day, Musk posted that "every parent should watch this," referring to the documentary.

Elon Musk
Elon MuskClive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Image

Source: Insider, Twitter

He then posted several tweets, including one that said he was going to begin "actively lobbying to criminalize" gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors. That same day, two more Twitter executives in the brand's safety division quit. Musk then seemed to confirm in a tweet that the two departures were related to the controversy.

Elon Musk has brought Twitter to break even through an aggressive approach to management.
Elon MuskSusan Walsh/AP

Source: Insider, Twitter, Twitter

In July, Insider reported that Musk had had twins with Shivon Zilis, an executive at Musk's brain chip company Neuralink, in November 2021.


Musk has been open about his concerns over population decline, and after the news came out, he tweeted that he's "doing my best to help the under-population crisis."

GettyImages 1229892421
Elon Musk.Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

Source: Elon Musk/Twitter

Soon after, another bombshell dropped: The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk had reportedly had an affair with Nicole Shanahan, the wife of his longtime friend, Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

Sergey Brin Elon Musk Larry Page
Sergey Brin, left, and Elon Musk.Mike Blake/Reuters; Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters; Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Journal reported that Brin had filed for divorce from Shanahan in January 2022 after learning of the affair, but Musk denied the affair had ever happened, calling the report "total BS." Shanahan's lawyer told Page Six that the report was "an outright lie."

Nicole Shanahan (left) and Sergey Brin.
Nicole Shanahan and Sergey Brin.Ian Tuttle/Getty Images

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Insider, Insider, Page Six

Musk's professional life is likely taking up most of him these days. He bought Twitter in October following months of back and forth that left the future of the company in limbo. Since then, he's fired top executives, laid off employees en masse, sparred with celebrities and politicians, and instituted new expectations of 80-hour workweeks, even installing bedrooms at Twitter headquarters.

An image of new Twitter owner Elon Musk is seen surrounded by Twitter logos in this photo illustration.
Elon Musk acquired Twitter on October 27.Getty Images

Source: Insider, Insider, Insider, Insider

Áine Cain contributed to an earlier version of this article. 

His leadership at Twitter has seen its share of controversy. He polled Twitter users in December about whether he should step down as CEO, with 57.5% voting in favor of him leaving the top post.

elon musk twitter
Musk has tweeted polls for Twitter users.Getty Images

Source: Insider

He also seemed to acknowledge some of his missteps at Twitter on the "All-In" podcast that month, and has since been sued by Twitter's landlords over unpaid rent. Twitter staff at the Chelsea office in New York have also encountered cockroaches in the showers there, and employees have complained about cleanliness and smell issues after Musk cut back on facilities staff.

Exterior view of the Twitter office in New York on April 26, 2022.
Exterior view of the Twitter office in New York on April 26, 2022.Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Sources: Insider; Insider; Insider; Insider

After the Twitter poll, Musk announced at the end of December 2022 he would eventually resign as CEO when he found "someone foolish enough to take the job." In June, Linda Yaccarino, NBCU's former ad sales chief, took over as Twitter's CEO. Musk tweeted that his role at Twitter transitioned to executive chair and chief technology officer.

Elon Musk, left, appointed Linda Yaccarino, right.
Elon Musk, left, appointed Linda Yaccarino, right, as the new CEO of Twitter.Michael Gonzalez, Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

Source: Insider, Insider, Insider, Twitter.

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson announced in May he would launch a talk show on Twitter, the first episode of which aired in June. Carlson's platform on Twitter could add to concerns among some Twitter users and employees that the platform has descended into one that spreads conspiracies and extreme speech.

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson started his talk show "Tucker on Twitter" in June.AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Source: Insider, Insider, Twitter

Musk has recently courted presidential candidates. He helped announce the presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on his Twitter Spaces platform — an announcement that was riddled with technical issues and delays. Musk also hosted Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Twitter Spaces, a Democratic presidential hopeful who has also been outspoken about his anti-vaccination stance.

Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis both wear suits, Musk tieless, and look towards the center of the image.
Elon Musk, left, and Ron DeSantis, right, launched the Florida governor's presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces.Maja Hitij/Getty Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Insider, Insider, Insider

A few days after Carlson's Twitter show first aired, Musk tweeted that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and former CNN host Don Lemon should put talk shows on Twitter, in an apparent attempt to balance out the political leanings on the platform. He tweeted: "You will receive our full support. The digital town square is for all."

Rachel Maddow, left, and Don Lemon, Right
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, left, and former CNN host Don Lemon, right.Bravo/Getty Images and Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Source: Insider, Insider, Twitter

He did bring in his toddler son, "X," his child with the musician Grimes, for a trip to the Twitter's office in San Francisco.

Elon Musk and son X Æ A-12 on stage TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City.
Elon Musk and son X Æ A-12 on stage TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City.Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Source: Insider

In December, Musk was seen attending the World Cup final in Qatar with Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump. His tweets from the match prompted quips that he had revealed his own location after booting off a number of journalists from the platform after they shared about a Twitter account that showed his private jet's travel details.

Elon Musk and Jared Kushner watching the World Cup final
Musk attended the World Cup final in Qatar.Niviere David/

Source: Insider

Musk also has indicated his apparent support for right-wing politics, saying the Democratic Party has "become the party of division & hate." Musk has also posted about right-wing conspiracy theories about the attacker who assaulted Nancy Pelosi's husband, and tweeted negatively about news outlets. He's said, for instance, that Twitter "is also a competitor to legacy media for news, so they are fundamentally conflicted" in reporting on his social media platform.

Elon Musk

Source: Insider; Twitter

Musk took the stand this year in a civil trial against him over claims by Tesla investors that he misled them and hurt the company's stock. The trial centered on a 2018 tweet in which Musk said that he had "funding secured" to take his electric carmaker private at $420 a share. But the jury cleared Musk over the tweet, which he celebrated by tweeting that "the wisdom of the people has prevailed!"

Elon Musk in a cowboy hat and sunglasses in a celebratory pose
Twitter CEO Elon Musk appearing at a 2022 Tesla event.Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Insider; WSJ; Twitter

Musk was seen attending the Super Bowl in February with news mogul Rupert Murdoch. He tweeted as a joke that the two were talking about Dogecoin, a crypto currency evoking the Shiba Inu "Doge" meme. Dogecoin got a brief 5% boost after Musk's joke.

Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch at the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch at the Super Bowl on Sunday.Caitlin O’Hara/Reuters.

Source: Insider

In March 2023 Grimes said she and Musk changed the name of their daughter to a symbol, but that the US government won't officially acknowledge it.

Grimes attends the 2021 Met Gala benefit "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City.
Taylor Hill/WireImage

Source: Insider

Grimes tweeted that her daughter Exa Dark Sideræl's new name is "Y", or "Why?" or just "?".

A picture of Grimes at the 2021 Met Gala
Grimes attends the 2021 Met Gala in New York.Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Source: Insider

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