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Elon Musk Sold $5 Billion In Tesla Stock This Week As Shares Plunged Following Twitter Poll


Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, sold a massive chunk of stock this week, in part to help pay taxes on options he received nearly a decade ago, new regulatory filings showed Wednesday—just days after the eccentric billionaire suggested he’d make the rare sale in response to a billionaire tax proposal discussed last month in Washington, D.C. 

Key Facts

In two filings released Wednesday evening by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk disclosed he exercised nearly 2.2 million stock options worth about $2.2 billion for roughly $13.4 million on Monday and then went on to sell about 934,000 shares for just over $1.1 billion that same day.

A series of filings released later Wednesday night show Musk then sold another 3.6 million shares for an average price of about $1,070 in the following two days, as prices crashed due to speculation over the possible sales.

The sales come after Musk on Saturday called on Twitter users to help decide whether he should sell 10% of his roughly 23% stake in Tesla in response to a short-lived legislative proposal that would have taxed billionaires’ unrealized stock gains to help curb tax avoidance among the ultrawealthy.

Though users overwhelmingly voted for Musk to make the sale, footnotes in the Wednesday regulatory filings reveal the 50-year-old in September planned to offload the initial tranche of shares sold Monday (worth $1.1 billion) to help foot the bill for options scheduled to expire next year.

Combined, the transactions this week represent about 3% of Musk’s overall stake; he still owns roughly 168 million Tesla shares.

Musk, who did not immediately respond to Forbes request for comment, sold the shares at an average price of about $1,070—securing a nearly 160% runup in prices over the past year but still 13% below an all-time high set on Thursday.


This is only the third time Musk has sold Tesla stock since the company went public on the Nasdaq exchange in 2010—and it’s easily his biggest transaction. In July 2010, Musk sold slightly more than 1.4 million shares for $24 million, and in 2016, he sold another 2.7 million shares for about $593 million.

Key Background

Shares of Tesla, one of the past year’s best-performing stocks, racked up big losses this week after Musk’s tweets sparked concerns among investors that share prices could hold up amid the liquidation. The stock is down 13% from its high last week, representing about $163 billion in market value that’s since been wiped out. Despite the decline, however, Tesla is still worth about $1.1 trillion. The stock ticked up 2.7% in after-hours trading after closing at about $1,068 per share on Wednesday.

Big Number

$281.6 billion. That’s how much Musk was worth as of Wednesday’s market close—before accounting for the option exercise and subsequent massive sale. 

Further Reading

Why Elon Musk May Want To Sell 10% Of His Tesla Stock—And Why He May Have To (Forbes)

Inside The Trillion Dollar Tech World (Forbes)

Here’s How Much Elon Musk Would Pay In Taxes If He Sells 10% Of His Tesla Stock (Forbes)

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