From his relationship with Amber Heard to quietly welcoming a third baby with Grimes, here are some of the most surprising revelations from the new book
Elon Musk is opening up like never before in a new biography that's creating headlines.
In the much-anticipated release, titled Elon Musk, author Walter Isaacson is revealing new details about the billionaire entrepreneur's childhood, his relationships with former wives and girlfriends, and his children.
According to publisher Simon & Schuster, Isaacson, who previously wrote a biography of Steve Jobs, spent two years shadowing and interviewing Musk himself as well as speaking with his family, friends and colleagues.
Read on for some of the biggest bombshells and notable anecdotes from the book.
Musk Was Intellectually Curious from a Young Age but Struggled in School
When the South African-born Musk was 3, Maye Musk, his mother, felt that he should attend nursery school as he was intellectually curious. She later got her way despite misgivings from the principal that Musk, due to his young age, might not be able to handle the social challenges. Later, when he was in the second grade, Musk developed a tendency to zone out, prompting the principal to tell his parents at a meeting, "We have reason to believe that Elon is retarded." (This term was widely used during the general timeframe this incident would have happened.)
Even after having his adenoids removed as a solution to what his parents decided was an ear problem, Musk still retreated into his own world. As he said in Elon Musk: "Ever since I was a kid, if I start to think about something hard, then all my sensory systems turn off. I can’t see or hear anything. I’m using my brain to compute, not for incoming information."
Unlike his brother Kimbal and sister Tosca, Musk, now 52, was described as a lonely child growing up who had a hard time making friends. He also said that he had Asperger’s syndrome, which resulted in his inability to pick up social cues. "He was never actually diagnosed as a kid," Maye said in the book, "but he said he has Asperger's, and I'm sure he's right."
Musk Told First Wife at Their Wedding Reception That He Was the ‘Alpha’
At his wedding to his first wife, Justine Musk in 2000, the couple had their first dance and shared a kiss. During that dance, according to the book, Musk whispered in her ear: "I am the alpha in this relationship."
This echoed comments Justine made in an essay for Marie Claire in 2010.
"There were warning signs," she wrote. "As we danced at our wedding reception, Elon told me, 'I am the alpha in this relationship.' I shrugged it off, just as I would later shrug off signing the postnuptial agreement, but as time went on, I learned that he was serious."
Their first child, son Nevada Alexander, died at 10 weeks old from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They went on to welcome twins Vivian Jenna Wilson and Griffin, as well as triplets Kai, Saxon, and Damian, before separating in 2008.
Musk Didn't Have a Ring When He Proposed to Talulah Riley — So They Shook On It
Following his breakup with his first wife, Musk traveled to London in July 2008 to deliver a speech at the Royal Aeronautical Society, per the book. While hanging out at a nightclub, the SpaceX founder spotted the British actress Talulah Riley coming in. The pair hit it off, and Musk then asked Riley if he could put his hand on her knee and then requested her phone number.
The two spent time together for the next three days, and Musk later invited her to Los Angeles at the end of his U.K. trip. She later visited Musk in L.A. and at the end of the trip, he proposed. He didn’t have a ring at the time, so the couple just shook hands on it, per the book.
Musk and Riley married in Scotland in 2010 and divorced two years later. The couple later reconciled and wed for the second time in July 2013 — only to split up once again in 2014 when Musk filed a divorce petition that was later withdrawn. Riley then filed for divorce in March 2016, which was later finalized in November.
Musk Called Relationship with Ex Amber Heard 'Brutal' as Actress Said He 'Loves Fire'
In the book, the SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO and Amber Heard, 37, open up about their romance, with which they went official in April 2017. The pair dated on and off in the months that followed before breaking up for good in 2018.
Some of the book’s tidbits about Musk and Heard’s relationship included the time the actress surprised Musk on his birthday in June 2016 by popping out with flowers from the back of a Tesla and that she developed a costume that she could role-play in after Musk said she reminded him of a character from the Overwatch video game.
But the romance wasn’t without turmoil. Of their relationship, Musk said in the biography, "It was brutal." For her part, Heard told Isaacson that she still loves her ex "very much," and added: "Elon loves fire, and sometimes it burns him."
Asked by Isaacson why he falls for these types of people, Musk replied, "I'm just a fool for love. I am often a fool, but especially for love."
He Was Once Found in 'Comatose State' Prior to Tesla Earnings Call
The new biography described the difficult period Musk experienced in his personal life between 2017 and 2018.
Isaacson wrote about a 2017 episode in which then-Tesla president Jon McNeill found Musk lying on a conference room floor with the lights off before the billionaire was scheduled to go on a Tesla earnings call with analysts. It took about 30 minutes to get Musk to move.
“He came from a comatose state,” McNeill said of his boss in the book, “ to a place where we could actually get him in the chair, get other people in the room, get him through his opening statement, and then cover for him.” After that ordeal was over, Musk said he needed to lie down and shut off the lights – a scenario that would later repeat itself five or six times, according to McNeill.
Tesla did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Musk Helped Conceive the Dress Grimes Wore to 2018 Met Gala — and Got a Tesla Employee to Work on Idea
Musk’s relationship with Canadian musician Claire Boucher, who goes by the moniker Grimes, became public in 2018 when they appeared at the Met Gala that year.
As told in Isaacson’s book, the two met when Musk was in an elevator with Heard. Following an exchange on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, which Musk now owns), Musk invited Grimes, 35, to his factory in Fremont, California, as part of a date.
Not only was Musk an innovator when it came to car manufacturing and space technology, but he also played a role in the design of the musician's dress for the Met Gala in 2018 — suggesting, according to the book, “a medieval-punk black-and-white ensemble with a hard glass corset and a necklace made of spikes that resemble the Tesla logo.” He went so far as to bring on a Tesla design employee to work on the idea.
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Musk Sent Around Photo of Grimes as She Was Having C-Section with Son X
Musk snapped a photo of Grimes as she was having a C-section with X Æ A-Xii and sent it around to their friends and family, including the musician's father and brothers, according to the book.
The move frustrated the singer. "He was just clueless about why I'd be upset," Grimes told Isaacson.
In the book, Isaacson also revealed that the couple used in vitro fertilization to help them conceive.
"Musk and Grimes, who conceived [X] through in vitro fertilization, had planned to have a girl, but the fertilized egg that got implanted, as they were preparing to go to Burning Man in 2019, turned out to be male," Isaacson wrote.
Musk Said 19-Year-Old Daughter 'Doesn't Want to Spend Time with Me'
The billionaire has opened up about the rift between him and his 19-year-old daughter, who was granted permission to legally change her name to Vivian Jenna Wilson in 2022. At the time, the judge also recognized her gender as female and ruled for the issuance of a new birth certificate to reflect the changes, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
According to court documents, she said the change was due to "Gender Identity and the fact that I no longer live with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form."
According to Elon Musk, Jenna developed a hatred for wealth and capitalism and clashed with her father, often saying to him: “I hate you and everything you stand for.”
Musk had previously stirred controversy on X over his opinions on preferred pronouns for transgender and nonbinary people. In July 2020, Musk tweeted, "Pronouns suck." Then in December of that year, after being criticized for an earlier tweet of his that appeared to mock the use of preferred pronouns, he posted on Twitter: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare. “
In Isaacson’s book, Musk said that his disagreements with Jenna intensified when she became a “full communist” who thought that “anyone rich is evil.” He also partly blamed a “progressive woke indoctrination” that infiltrated a Los Angeles private school that Jenna attended. “I’ve made many overtures,” Musk said in the book, “but she doesn’t want to spend time with me.”
Dad Errol Revealed He Fathered Second Child with Former Stepdaughter on Father's Day
"The only thing we are on Earth for is to reproduce. If I could have another child I would," Errol, a dad of seven, wrote, per the book. "I can't see any reason not to."
In July 2022, Errol, who was 76 at the time, said in an interview with The Sun that he and Bezuidenhout had a second child in 2019, two years after the birth of their son, Elliot Rush.
In a 2018 interview with the U.K.'s Sunday Times, Errol said he and Bezuidenhout began their relationship while he helped her get over a breakup, and that he did not consider Bezuidenhout to be his stepdaughter, claiming she spent most of her time away from the family while growing up.
Musk Said He 'Wants Smart People to Have Kids'
According to Isaacson’s book, Musk — a father of 11 — has said it's important for people to have many kids due to his concerns that declining birth rates would be detrimental to the “survival of human consciousness."
Shivon Zilis, an executive at Musk’s company Neuralink, said in the new biography that Musk also motivated her to have children. “He really wants smart people to have kids, so he encouraged me to," she said in the book.
Although Zillis initially planned on using an anonymous sperm donor, Musk later suggested that he could be the donor, which she agreed to. Their twins, Strider Sekhar Sirius and Azure Astra Alice, were conceived through in vitro fertilization.
Musk and Grimes Quietly Welcomed Third Baby, Son Techno Mechanicus
The new biography revealed that Musk and Grimes welcomed their third child, son Techno Mechanicus, who also goes by "Tau," in June 2022.
The nickname is based on the Greek letter that represents the number value of pi twice, which is about 6.28, which is the date of Musk’s birthday on June 28.
The former couple kept the birth of Tau a secret. Isaacson also wrote that when Musk visited Grimes’ house two months after Tau’s birth, he sat on the floor and fed baby food to his new son. As Grimes recalled in the book: “Tau is so amazing. He came out with eyes that could just see so deeply into your soul, with so much knowledge. He looks like a little Spock. He’s definitely Vulcan.”
Representatives for both Musk and Grimes did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson is out now.
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