Musk Gave Out $5.7 Billion Worth of Tesla Shares to Unknown Charity

Musk Gave Out $5.7 Billion Worth of Tesla Shares to Unknown Charity
Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9, 2020. (Susan Walsh, File/AP Photo)
Naveen Athrappully

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, the world’s richest man worth over $238 billion, donated millions of Tesla shares last year to a charity according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

Musk sold 5,044,000 Tesla shares between Nov. 19 and Nov. 29 last year according to the filing. These shares are estimated to have been worth around $5.74 billion at the time. The filing did not disclose the name of the charity which benefited from the donation.

Some speculate that the donation might have gone to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). In October, the director of WFP David Beasley had suggested that around 2 percent of Musk’s wealth could solve world hunger.

“If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6 [billion] will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it,” Musk had replied to Beasley’s tweet on Oct. 31.
The WFP published an article on Nov. 3 detailing how it planned to support 42 million people “on the brink of famine.” $6.6 billion could “avert catastrophe,” the organization claimed.

Researcher Dr. Eli David questioned WFP’s claim in a tweet by pointing out that the organization had failed to “solve world hunger” despite raising $8.4 billion in 2020.

Business Insider questioned WFP spokesperson Steve Taravella about whether the organization had received the $5.7 billion donation. However, Taravella refused to reveal any information, stating that WFP leaves the disclosure of donations to the donors themselves.

The donation of over five million Tesla shares came as Musk sold shares worth $16.4 billion in early November after polling his Twitter followers on selling 10 percent of his stake in Tesla. The $5.7 billion donation will give Musk tax benefits as shares donated to charities are exempt from capital gains tax.

“His tax benefit would be huge,” Bob Lord, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, said to Reuters. “He‘d save between 40 percent and 50 percent of the $5.7 billion in tax, depending on whether he could take the deduction against his California income and he’d avoid the gains tax he would have to pay if he sold the stock.”

Though Musk has contributed to charities before, he is trailing behind billionaires like Warren Buffet who has already donated 20 percent of his wealth as of September 2021. Musk is also a signatory to the Giving Pledge.

It is a commitment made by billionaires to give off at least half their wealth to charities during their lifetime or after death. Musk runs the Musk Foundation that offers grants in five areas—renewable energy, human space exploration, pediatrics, AI development, and science and engineering education.

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