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Elon Musk’s $4.4bn Charity Recipients Remain Mystery

The donations were worth about $5.7 billion at the time they were made, but are now valued at $4.4 billion following a pullback in Tesla shares

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, a prolific Twitter user, said the app needed to be taken private to grow. Photo: Reuters.


The charities to which Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has donated more than 5 million shares of his company remain a mystery.

Musk gave away the stock in November 2021 in five separate transactions, according to a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The donations were worth about $5.7 billion at the time they were made, but are now valued at around $4.4 billion following a pullback in shares of the electric car company.

The transactions came as Musk was selling a huge quantity of Tesla shares granted to him as compensation. Musk’s stock sales were expected to generate a large tax bill that charitable donations could help to mitigate.

When the filing first hit, some speculated that Musk had made a massive gift to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP).

In October 2021, Musk wrote on Twitter that he would donate $6 billion to the WFP if the organisation could describe “exactly how” the money would “solve world hunger”.

But the WFP told Forbes it not has received such a gift. “Whether WFP receives any of this money is yet to be seen, but I am excited to hear that Elon is engaged,” said the programme’s executive director, David Beasley, in a statement.

No other charities have announced gifts yet, either, Forbes said.

In 2021, Musk financed a $100 million competition for projects to fight climate change in a spree of donating.

Last year, Musk also committed $30 million to nonprofits in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, $5 million to Khan Academy, a platform for online courses, $5 million to a pair of Boston researchers studying coronavirus and $1 million to Feeding Texas, which operates food banks.

Almost all the recipients have been primarily working with Igor Kurganov, a professional poker player turned philanthropist, whom Musk has enlisted to keep track of proposals.

Musk sold more than $16 billion worth of Tesla shares in late 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal, after saying on Twitter that he expected to pay $11 billion in taxes last year.

His fortune is estimated at $238 billion by Forbes, and Musk in 2012 signed the “Giving Pledge,” launched by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and encourages the rich to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.


  • AFP, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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