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Elon Musk is a homeowner again, despite his claims of couch surfing

Grace Kay,Jack Newsham   

Elon Musk is a homeowner again, despite his claims of couch surfing
  • In 2020, Elon Musk announced that he would no longer own a home.
  • As recently as April 2022, he claimed to be couch surfing.

Elon Musk has been posing as essentially homeless since 2020, when he publicly pledged that he would henceforth "own no house" and began offloading his various properties. As recently as April 2022, the billionaire Tesla cofounder claimed in an interview that he was couch surfing and didn't "even own a place right now."

But a Business Insider review of court records in his custody dispute with his former girlfriend Grimes shows that by that time, Musk had made a quiet U-turn in his nomadic sojourn and purchased a home in Austin.

In redacted court filings from December, Musk said he purchased the home in February 2022 and that he still lived there.

"In February 2022 I bought the home on [redacted] where [redacted] and I still live," Musk said in the complaint, adding that Grimes and their children lived with him in the house from April to August 2023. The filing says Musk purchased the home after the address of a house he'd been renting became public knowledge and "was no longer private and secure for my family."

Musk understandably withheld the address of the new property he bought, so all we know about the house from his public filings is that he purchased it in February 2022 and lived there as of December. But Grimes' attorneys were less discreet in their filings, disclosing an Austin location described as Musk's "self-reported residential address."

The house at that address was purchased by an LLC in February 2022 — the same month that Musk says he purchased the house — according to the deed for the property. The LLC was created shortly before the house was purchased and is overseen by a wealth-management company, according to records on file with the Texas Secretary of State. Musk and the manager of the LLC didn't respond to a request for comment.

BI is withholding the address for privacy reasons.

"It's incredibly common for people who are in the public eye to attempt to disguise their ownership with an LLC. For obvious reasons, they don't want people to know where they live. It's easy enough to set up and can help maintain that privacy," Stefan Cassella, a former deputy chief of asset forfeiture and money laundering with the Department of Justice, said. "For an extremely high-net-worth individual, I'd be surprised if they didn't hold their property under an LLC of some kind."

The house in Austin was first bought by a couple in 2018 after it was listed online for $4.5 million, according to property records. It was later resold in 2022 but was never listed publicly, records show.

While Musk hasn't publicly linked himself to the address, there are some signs the billionaire may be living in the Texas home. A neighbor told BI earlier this year that the home had around-the-clock security and that Teslas could frequently be seen around the property.

The neighbor said he'd heard Musk lived at the property but had yet to lay eyes on the billionaire. The person said they'd seen Grimes there before she moved to California.

"I think he's been there one time or so," the neighbor said in a phone call, adding that in late 2023 or early 2024, they saw "a Cybertruck pulled out, and like three other Model Ys — like a little escort."

When a BI reporter buzzed an intercom outside the house's tall wooden gate last year and asked to speak to Musk, the man who answered paused. After about 10 seconds of silence, he said: "Sorry, sir. I'm unable to help you. Have a good day."

The house isn't nearly as luxurious as Musk's former properties — at one point, the billionaire owned a real-estate portfolio worth an estimated $100 million. In 2023, the Austin property was appraised at nearly $7 million, county tax records show.

The nearly 7,000-square-foot house was built in 2017, according to Zillow. BI is withholding some details to avoid identifying it.

'Selling almost all physical possessions'

Musk has yet to publicly acknowledge that he reversed course and purchased a home. In June 2021, he said he rented a $50,000 prefabricated home. Less than a year later, in April 2022, Musk said again that he didn't own a home and rotated between friends' spare rooms. The billionaire has also been known to sleep at X or Tesla's offices.

BI previously reported that a Boxabl prefabricated house named a Casita had been delivered to SpaceX. At the time, Musk denied living in the modular house and said he lived in a different small house in Texas. But in July 2022, he said on a podcast that he used a Boxabl as his guest house.

The billionaire initially said in 2020 that he was selling his possessions and abandoning homeownership in order to focus more of his finances on his long-term goal for SpaceX — colonizing Mars.

"I am selling almost all physical possessions," Musk tweeted at the time. "My gf @Grimezsz is mad at me."

About a year after he posted that, Musk sold his last remaining home, a $30 million mansion in San Francisco.

Over the years, reports have circulated regarding the billionaire's living situation. In 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk was living with his fellow PayPal Mafia member Ken Howery at his 8,000-square-foot house near the Colorado River in Austin. At the time, Musk denied the report in an emailed statement to BI.

"I don't live there and am not looking to buy a house anywhere," he said in the email. Eight weeks later, the LLC that purchased the Austin house was formed.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk was building a company town in Texas' Bastrop County, complete with a private compound for Musk and a Montessori school. In his biography about Musk, Walter Isaacson said Musk had bought a horse farm near Tesla's Austin Gigafactory and had considered building a glass house on the land.

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