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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Joe Sommerlad

Who are Elon Musk’s relatives?

The Met Museum/Getty

Elon Musk has reportedly hired two of his cousins to work for him at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, California.

Andrew Musk and James Musk, from the billionaire’s father’s side of the family, were described as a software engineering specialist and “a fixer type” respectively by a source who spoke to Insider.

Since Mr Musk, 51, took over of the social network in late October, approximately 70 per cent of its staff have been fired or compelled to resign, with many driven away by his insistence on a “hardcore” working environment or ideologically opposed to his determination to promote free speech on the site at any cost, even if that means platforming the far-right, relying on AI for content moderation and frightening away advertisers.

The entrepreneur behind PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla has, however, brought in a number of trusted lieutenants from his other businesses to help with the running of Twitter, notably right-hand man Jared Birchall and attorney Alex Spiro, who have reportedly been sleeping in the office in converted bedrooms while the “Chief Twit” seeks to steady the ship.

While Mr Musk’s own backstory is as well documented as his dream of colonising Mars, the hiring of his cousins shines a fresh spotlight on an interesting family tree.

Here’s a quick introduction for the uninitiated.

Maye Musk

The tech tycoon’s mother, 74, is a professional model and dietitian who has appeared on the cover of Time, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, New York magazine, Elle Canada and Women’s Day and in advertising campaigns for Target and Virgin America, among many others.

She was born Maye Haldeman in Saskatchewan, Canada, on 19 April 1948, a twin and one of five siblings, but raised in Pretoria, South Africa.

Her parents – Elon’s maternal grandparents – chiropractor Dr Joshua Norman Haldeman and amateur archaeologist Winnifred Josephine Fletcher, known as Wyn, were self-styled adventurers and spent time hunting for the Lost City of the Kalahari, giving illustrated talks about their travels.

A finalist in the Miss South Africa beauty contest of 1969, Maye married high school peer and aspiring engineer Errol Musk a year later, with whom she had three children (Elon being the eldest, followed by brother Kimbal and sister Tosca) while also completing a master’s degree in dietetics from the University of the Orange Free State in South Africa.

Maye Musk (AP)

Their unhappy marriage collapsed in 1979 and, after a decade of bitter custody-wrangling that left her penniless, Maye returned with Tosca to the country of her birth – where Elon and Kimbal were then living – and successfully continued her modelling career while also obtaining another degree in nutritional science from the University of Toronto.

Clearly sharing the same taste for the limelight as her own parents and beloved son, Maye Musk has attended awards ceremonies as Elon’s date and appeared on Saturday Night Live alongside him – the pair unavoidably recalling Lucille and Buster Bluth from Arrested Development.

Speaking in the recent BBC documentary series, The Elon Musk Show, she branded her boy a “genius” and urged his critics to “stop being mean to him”, observing that he “gets a lot of hate”, a galant defence of a man who, she revealed to The Times, expects her to sleep in a garage when she visits his SpaceX projects in Texas because, “You can’t have a fancy house near a rocket site.”

Errol Musk

Elon’s father Errol, 76, is a retired electromechanical engineer, consultant, property developer and pilot, who claims to have once owned a 50 per cent stake in an Zambian emerald mine near Lake Tanganyika, a share he says he bought for £40,000 after selling off a plane.

“We were very wealthy. We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe,” he told Business Insider South Africa with glee, recounting how his sons would later walk right into Tiffany’s in New York City and sell emeralds produced from their trouser pockets.

Elon has often characterised his father as an overbearing bully, frequently absent but prone to lecturing and dismissive of his teenage passion for computing but the pair do have traits in common, not least a desire to keep busy.

In 1972, Errol was elected to the Pretoria City Council as a representative of the anti-apartheid Progressive Party, a role he carried out while also pursuing his engineering consultancy and precious stone ventures.

Following his separation from Maye in 1979 – the result of infidelities and, she later alleged, domestic abuse both verbal and violent – Mr Musk married Heide Bezuidenhout, helping to raise her daughter from a previous marriage, Jana, and fathering two more children: Alexandra and Asha Rose.

Another of Mr Musk’s possibly tall tales is that he shot dead three burglars with a .357 Magnum during a seven-man home invasion in Johannesburg in 1998, six-year-old Alexandra clinging naked to his leg in terror as he fired, only to be acquitted of manslaughter charges after being found to have acted in self-defence.

“One bullet went through two of them,” he told The Sun, more than a little implausibly. “I took the first guy out through the head. The police found him with the top of his head missing.”

Errol Musk (Denver Post/Getty)

Amazingly, Mr Musk later went on to have another two children with Jana Bezuidenhout, his former step-daughter, in 2017 and 2019, the first of which arrived when he was 72 and his partner just 30.

He is currently estranged from Elon, who described him, tearfully, to Rolling Stone in 2017 by saying: “You have no idea about how bad [he is]. Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done. Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done… It’s so terrible, you can’t believe it.”

The “architect of tomorrow” also rubbished his father’s claim to have invested in his first software venture – Zip2, which he founded with brother Kimbal – and said he felt there was little hope of their ever being reconciled.

“In my experience, there is nothing you can do,” he said. “Nothing, nothing. I wish. I’ve tried everything. 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.”

Retaliating in The Daily Mail after inviting the paper to admire his Bentley Continental and “elegant home overlooking a wide sweep of the rocky coast in South Africa’s Western Cape” and describe him as “a craggily good-looking man with a 1,000-watt smile and an easy humour”, Errol Musk said his eldest son “needs to grow up” and “get over himself”.

“I’m not going to hit back,” he said, before hitting back. “I’m going to wait until he comes to his senses. He’s having a tantrum, like a spoilt child. He can’t have what he wants and now I am apparently an evil monster.”

Mr Musk went on to suggest that the fact that he had raised his children in luxury, driven them to school in a convertible Rolls-Royce Corniche and given them thoroughbred horses and motorbikes as teenagers might account for their so-called self-centredness now.

His own parents – Elon’s paternal grandparents – were South African Second World War veteran Walter Henry James Musk and his British wife Cora Amelia Robinson.

Kimbal Musk

Elon’s younger brother, 50, is restaurateur, chef and owner of The Kitchen Restaurant Group, which operates a string of community restaurants in Colorado, Chicago, and Indianapolis.

He is also co-founder and chairman of both Big Green, a non-profit dedicated to building “Learning Gardens” for schools to promote healthy eating, and of Square Roots, an urban farming venture in Brooklyn, New York City.

After graduating from high school in Pretoria, he left South Africa to join Elon in Canada and there graduated from Queen’s University in Ontario in 1995, the same year that the brothers co-founded Zip2, which they sold to Compaq for $307m four years later.

Kimbal has been married twice and has three children.

Tosca Musk

Elon’s sister, 48, is a prolific executive producer and film director and co-founder of the streaming platform Passionflix, which The New York Times has described as “dedicated to adaptations of romance novels and erotic fan fiction” and “a sexy Hallmark channel”.

Tosca Musk (Tosca Musk/Instagram)

Like her brothers, she too was educated in both South Africa and then Canada – having, according to her mother, sold the family house and car without telling anyone, aged 15 – graduating from the University of British Columbia in 1997.

Elon was an executive producer on Tosca’s directorial debut, Puzzled (2001), and she has since worked on Cruel World (2005), the web series Tiki Bar TV (2005), The Heavy (2009), Hollywood Dirt (2017), The Matchmaker’s Playbook (2018) and the show Driven (2018-22), none of which ring a bell.

The ex-wives and partners

Elon Musk is also known for his romantic relationships and has been married twice.

His first wife was writer Justine Wilson, whom he met while studying at Queen’s University and married in 2000.

Their first child together, Nevada, passed away from sudden infant death syndrome at 10 weeks in 2002, a tragedy he discussed publicly recently during an attack on Alex Jones over his Sandy Hook conspiracy theories and which prompted the couple to pursue IVF treatment.

They subsequently had twins in 2004 (Griffin and Vivian) and then triplets in 2006 (Kai, Saxon and Damian) but divorced in 2008.

Talulah Riley and Elon Musk (AFP/Getty)

That same year he met British actress Talulah Riley, whom he married at Dornoch Cathedral in Scotland in 2010, only for the couple to then divorce two years later before remarrying in 2013 and divorcing again in 2016.

Since then, he has dated Hollywood actress Amber Heard and avant-garde pop star Grimes, with whom he had two more children, absurdly named X AE A-XII Musk and Exa Dark Sideræl Musk respectively.

It was also reported in July this year that Mr Musk had had twins with Shivon Zilis, a director of operations and special projects at his company Neuralink, in November 2021 and that that he had had an affair with Nicole Shanahan, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, a story he denied.

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