As one celebrity gossip website put it, Elon Musk is “on a quest to out-Howard Hughes in the messy billionaire department.”
The Tesla CEO certainly appears to be headed that way. Perhaps not since Hughes has a global business figure so dramatically allowed his personal issues to get mixed up with his professional life in ways that threaten his reputation and business.
In Musk’s case the issues currently center around his young musician girlfriend Grimes and the controversial rapper Azealia Banks, who said she was a weekend guest at Musk’s home earlier this month. For reasons that will be explained, Banks has since taken it upon herself to air Musk’s “dirty laundry” and reveal how messy things may have become for Musk, according to D-listed, The Cut and other sites.
The “dirty laundry” includes Banks’ most explosive allegation: That Musk was under the influence of a psychedelic drug when he tweeted on Aug. 7 that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 a share and that he had secured funding.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
In one of her dirt-dishing series of Instagram stories, Banks accused Musk of being “too stupid to know not to go on Twitter on acid.”
Banks has more recently shared screenshots of text conversations with Grimes, in which Grimes said Musk “got into weed cuz of me” and is “super entertained by 420,” using the slang word for cannabis. Grimes also said Musk set the price of his stock at $420 “for a laugh,” according to the texts.
— William Turton (@WilliamTurton) August 21, 2018
Musk’s tweet, including the claim that he had secret funding, sparked an immediate backlash that included a reported investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, instability in Tesla’s stock price and a lawsuit by shareholders, who accused the founder of scheming to “artificially manipulate the price of Tesla stock.”
All this drama goes back to the weekend of Aug. 10. That’s when Banks said she arrived at Musk’s Los Angeles mansion. She told Business Insider she was invited to hang out to make music — with both Grimes and Musk.
The thrice-divorced Musk, 47, who has long been referred to as “eccentric” and “visionary,” and Grimes, 30, began dating in April. They made their public debut at the Met Gala in New York City, where the Canadian musician wore a dress Musk reportedly helped her design and which was accessorized with a choker that bore a striking resemblance to the Tesla logo.
“They bring me out there on the premise that we would hang and make music,” Banks said in a direct-message to the Business Insider. She said she arrived early Friday.
But facing backlash over his tweet, Musk spent the weekend desperately seeking funding, while Grimes focused on comforting him, Banks complained.
On Sunday, Aug. 12, she posted on Instagram story: “I waited around all weekend while grimes coddled her boyfriend.” In another story, she wrote that “staying in Elon musks house has been like a real like episode of ‘Get Out.’”
In an Aug. 13 interview with Business Insider, Banks said: “I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his ass after that tweet. He was stressed and red in the face.”
To add insult to injury, Banks added: “He’s not cute at all in person” and said some other negative things about Musk’s skin and appearance.
A spokesman for Musk told Business Insider via email that Musk has “never even met” Banks or “communicated with her in any way.” However, the spokesman didn’t deny that Banks had stayed at one of his properties over the weekend.
As if the Banks drama wasn’t enough, Musk followed it up with a tearful Aug. 16 interview with the New York Times in which he described the “excruciating” demands of running Tesla and the profound impact it has had on his personal life, often leaving him in need of the medication Ambien to help him get to sleep.
But he denied to the Times that he was “on weed” when he sent out the controversial tweet. He also denied that the proposed $420 stock price was a coded reference to marijuana; he said he was just rounding up from $419, which is about a 20 percent premium over where the stock had been recently trading.
“It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” Musk told the Times. “But I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.”
Starting this weekend, Banks continued the drama by again taking to Instagram to share another story that contained the text message from Grimes, in which the singer contradicted Musk’s statements about marijuana, among other things.
In other texts, Grimes also told Banks that “Elon really likes a note” she apparently sent him and “definitely wants a future collaboration.”
But the texts contain more personal observations about Musk from Grimes, including that he has “a fake made up accent” — a “weird accent that doesn’t really exist” — and that he is well-endowed, although Grimes puts it more crudely.
Finally, perhaps as a testament to Musk’s importance on the global stage, Grimes wrote “the Russians want (him) dead.”
Azealia Banks lives the wildest life I swear like lmao pic.twitter.com/Er61Zbl43F
— Rashida (@fuckrashida) August 18, 2018
Perhaps in response to Banks’ continuing onslaught or the turmoil around Tesla, Musk’s Instagram account disappeared. However his Twitter account remains active, and it’s his more preferred platform for communicating with his fans, getting into feuds and often tweeting out revealing or controversial remarks.
More upsetting for Musk on a personal level is the possibility that he and Grimes have broken up. Business Insider reported that they had stopped following each other on Instagram — before Musk took his account down — and that he had stopped following her on Twitter.
As Jezebel noted, there are few relationships that could survive a wayward tweet, a possible SEC investigation and the consequences of not being attentive weekend hosts to Azealia Banks.