Inside the turbulent personal life of Elon Musk, who called his estranged father ‘a terrible human being’ and who says he must be in love to be happy

Elon Musk and ex-wife Talulah Riley.

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Elon Musk and ex-wife Talulah Riley.
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Joshua Roberts/Reuters

• Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk prefers not to speak about his personal life regularly.

• But in an intensely candid Rolling Stone profile, Musk discussed topics he usually doesn’t, from his breakup with Amber Heard to his estranged relationship with his father.

• Musk has had a stormy personal life at times. He’s been through two divorces and his estranged from his father, who made headlines in March after it was reported he had a child with his 30-year-old former stepdaughter Jana Bezuidenhout.

In 2010, Elon Musk said he would “rather stick a fork in my hand than write about my personal life.”

But the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is a fascinating figure, and along the way, he’s opened up here and there about his childhood, his parents, and his relationships.

In an an in-depth November 2017 Rolling Stone interview, he got uncharacteristically candid.

He spoke of his breakup with ex-girlfriend Amber Heard, expressing his heartbreak over their parting. Musk also touched upon his estranged relationship with his father Errol, calling him a “terrible human being.”

Musk went on to discuss how difficult it is for him to meet people, saying he is looking for a long-term relationship – and a soul mate. Musk, who has been divorced twice, even asked interviewer Neil Strauss if there was anyone Strauss thought he should date.

“If I’m not in love, if I’m not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy,” he told Rolling Stone. “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me. It’s not like I don’t know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. F–. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?”

Here’s a look back at the tech titan’s personal life:


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.'”

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Elon Musk.
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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Source: Rolling Stone, Business Insider


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.

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


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. When his parents split in 1980, Musk went to live with his father.

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Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider


Today, Musk and Errol are estranged. The Tesla CEO told the Rolling Stone that his father is “a terrible human being.” “You have no idea about how bad,” Musk said. “Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done.”

Source: Rolling Stone


Musk’s father, who is now 72, made headlines in March when it was revealed that he had a child with his 30-year-old former stepdaughter Jana Bezuidenhout, whom he’s known since she was 4 years old.

Source: Telegraph


Despite this familial rift, 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 with help from her eldest brother.

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Source: CNBC, CNBC, Forbes, CNBC


And Musk also reportedly has a good relationship with his mother. Vanity Fair reported that he gifted Maye with a green Tesla. She also moved to California in 2013 to be closer to her oldest son and grandchildren.

Source: Vanity Fair


Musk obtained Canadian citizenship through his mother. At the age of 17, he moved to Kingston, Ontario to attend Queen’s University.

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Elsa/Getty Images

Source: Twitter, Esquire


There met his first wife, Justine Wilson. Writing in Marie Claire, Justine — who still uses Musk’s last name — recalled that Musk invited her out for ice cream.

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Queen’s University.
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Justine Musk/Twitter

Source: Marie Claire


She decided to stay in to study, but he showed up with “two chocolate-chip ice cream cones dripping down his hands.”

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CeresB/Flickr

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.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Marie Claire


The Canadian novelist 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.

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Justine Musk/Twitter

Source: Marie Claire


The couple moved to Los Angeles and had a son named Nevada, whom they lost to SIDS. They ultimately had twins and triplets — five sons in total. In her 2010 Marie Claire article, Justine said her children are “thriving.”

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Justine Musk/Twitter

Source: Marie Claire


And in 2013, Musk said he strives to spend time with his sons. In 2010, he called his children “the love of my life.”

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, Business Insider


The couple split in 2008, and Justine kept her husband’s last name for the sake of their kids. After his divorce, the tech mogul began dating actress Talulah Riley.

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Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.
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Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: Bloomberg, Quora


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.”

Source: Marie Claire


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

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Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.
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Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: Forbes


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

Source: POPSugar


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

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Elon Musk and Talulah Riley.
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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.

Source: The Cut, Rolling Stone


Commenting 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.”

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Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Source: Rolling Stone, The Cut