EXCLUSIVE: Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, has been the subject of controversy due to claims he sexually harassed a flight attendant in his own company and had ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Nour Ahmad reports.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk is just about set to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion, but there are still questions to be raised about his conduct over the years.
The free speech warrior is no stranger to scandal, recently getting into a Twitter feud with Australian billionaire and Atlassian CEO Scott Farquhar over Musk’s refusal to allow Tesla employees to work remotely.
Now, the issue of him being a possible sexual harasser is on the table.
Two weeks ago Business Insider dropped a bombshell when they revealed that SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, paid a flight attendant $250,000 in hush money after she accused Musk of sexually harassing her in 2018.
The incident itself occurred back in 2016, and the attendant alleged that, during a massage, Musk exposed his erect penis to her and rubbed her leg without consent. Even more bizarrely, he then allegedly offered to buy her a horse if she upped it to an erotic massage.
Although Musk would later deny these claims, the question of why his company felt the need to pay the flight attendant such a hefty amount of money still stands. Neither Musk nor SpaceX’s vice president of the legal department, Christopher Cardaci, denied the payment in statements to Business Insider. Musk has however claimed there is “a lot more to this story,” which he described as a “politically motivated hit piece.”
This incident follows numerous allegations that Musk had close connections to convicted sex offender and top hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein. The allegations detailed against Musk and SpaceX strongly mirror the notorious predilection that Epstein had with young women giving him erotic massages.
In July 2019, Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of under-aged girls to powerful men in Florida and New York between 2003 and 2005. Epstein, 66, was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted, but was found dead in his cell only a month later in what is believed to have been a suicide.
During his crimes, Epstein was aided by his then personal assistant and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28 and could face decades in prison, even after a US Judge concluded she would only sentence Maxwell on three of the five counts she was convicted for.
Knowing all this, it came as no surprise that, when an image of Elon Musk and Ghislaine Maxwell began circulating on social media, it went viral quickly.
The image was taken at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party and, when asked about photograph in 2020, Musk claimed he “didn’t know Ghislaine at all” and that she photobombed him at the event.
Photobombed? Elon Musk pictured with the acquaintance of Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell (Image: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images)
Musk has been seemingly trying to distance himself from claims he was involved with Epstein, just recently tweeting, wondering why the US Department of Justice had not leaked Epstein’s client list.
However, Musk’s own supposed links to Epstein are so widespread that even Snopes, the conspiracy busting website, was unable to fully disprove what appeared to be an email exchange between the two.
In April 2022, a picture of a 2016 email exchange was posted to Twitter, in which Musk presumably confirmed to Epstein he had met up with Ghislaine Maxwell for “Kungfu practice.”
Snopes originally gave the email a “false” rating, however, this was changed to “unproven” upon gaining evidence that the domain used for the email exchange had been archived by the website since at least 2010, well before 2016 and making the exchange technically possible.
Alleged email exchange between Jeffrey Epstein and Elon Musk (Image: www.snopes.com)
In January 2020, Business Insider claimed Epstein and his entourage were given a private tour of Elon Musk’s SpaceX facility in 2012. Furthermore, they revealed Jeffrey Epstein introduced Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, to a woman in his entourage. Musk would later deny this, claiming “[Epstein] never toured SpaceX.”
Then, in July 2020, rumors began spreading on social media that Elon Musk’s ex-wife Talulah Riley was one of Epstein’s victims, gifted to Musk as a child bride by Ghislaine Maxwell. The rumors were so widespread that Riley released a strange public statement via Twitter, denying the speculations but admitting the pair visited Epstein’s home in New York City at least once.
“Elon and I went to Epstein’s house in NYC once as part of an itinerary of appointments,” Riley admitted before claiming she couldn’t remember which year it was.
She then claimed not to have known who Epstein’s co-offender was despite also being at the 2014 Oscars after-party thrown by Vanity Fair.
“To my knowledge, I have never met Ghislaine Maxwell,” Riley said in her statement.
“It is possible I was briefly introduced to her, but not in any way that I can remember.”
Tech Bros: Bill Gates (second on the right) pictured with Jeffrey Epstein (middle) at Epstein’s mansion in 2011 (Image: New York Times)
Riley further claimed she made the public statement “only for myself” but had first sought Musk’s “permission” before doing so.
Further links appeared back in August 2019, when it was reported that in 2018, Jeffrey Epstein told a New York Times columnist that he was helping Elon Musk find a new chairman for Tesla. According to the columnist, Musk and Tesla, of course, “vehemently denied” Epstein’s story.
Musk is far from the only tech mogul to be linked to Epstein. In late 2019, The New York Times revealed that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had fundraising meetings with Epstein several times in 2011 – meetings which the tech billionaire now publicly regrets.
This association with the convicted sex offender would become a factor in his divorce too. Gates’s ex-wife, Melinda, revealed during a recent CBS Mornings interview, that she “did not like [Epstein]” and had nightmares after meeting him.
Although the tech billionaires don’t want to speak up, we know their royal friend Prince Andrew recently had to cough up £12 million pounds ($22.6 million) to settle a case with one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.
To this day, Prince Andrew denies meeting his accuser Virginia Roberts, who now goes by her maiden name Virginia Giuffre and lives in Australia. In a BBC interview that aired in late 2019, the royal claimed that, on March 10, 2001, the day of the alleged incident, he was at home with his children and took his daughter, Princess Beatrice, to a Pizza Express birthday party.
When asked why he could remember exactly what he was doing on such a specific date, Prince Andrew responded; “because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do.”
Unluckily for the Duke of York, this alibi fell apart when Daily Mail revealed that, according to a family diary, he had booked a home manicure on that same afternoon. To add fuel to the fire, a source told the tabloid that Princess Beatrice had “no recollection” of the Pizza Express party.
However, despite presumably using his children as a shield against the allegations, he still paid millions of dollars to Guiffre in compensation.
Prince Andrew, regularly referred to as the “Queen’s favourite son,” even had his military titles and royal patronages stripped from him with his royal mother’s approval early this year.
The idea that Prince Andrew was supposedly caught in a lie despite his many excuses can be compared to Musk’s defensive Twitter tirades about his association with Epstein.
Another interesting character with similar defensive habits to Musk is, ironically, high-profile defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz was accused by the same Virginia Guiffre who accused Prince Andrew, with Giuffre stating under oath she had “sexual intercourse” with Dershowitz “at least six times.”
Dershowitz originally denied the allegations, but later backtracked, revealing he did receive a “massage” at Epstein’s home but from an older Russian lady rather than a minor. He also helpfully added that he “kept [his] underwear on” throughout the service.
All of this is information is difficult to ignore and leaves many lingering, unanswered questions.
Did Elon Musk know about Epstein’s sex trafficking ring?
If he did, is he feigning ignorance?
Did Epstein really have a role in SpaceX and Tesla’s operations?
And, will this put a wedge in Elon’s foolproof plan to buy Twitter?
Only time will tell.