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Elon Musk’s Friendship With Sergey Brin Ruptured by Alleged Affair
People who know about the situation say that Elon Musk had a short affair with Sergey Brin’s wife last fall. This led the Google co-founder to file for divorce earlier this year and ended their long friendship.
Their fight is one of a number of personal problems that Mr. Musk has had to deal with at the same time as he deals with business problems, such as production problems at Tesla Inc. TSLA 0.20 percent and a court battle over his desire to pull his $44 billion bid for Twitter Inc.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index says that Mr. Musk is the richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of $240 billion, and Mr. Brin is the eighth richest person in the world with $95 billion.
Brin and Musk, two of the most famous entrepreneurs in the country, have been friends for a long time. Mr. Musk has said that he often stayed at Mr. Brin’s house in Silicon Valley for many years.
During the financial crisis of 2008, when the company was struggling to make more cars, Mr. Brin gave Mr. Musk about $500,000. In 2015, Mr. Musk gave Mr. Brin one of the first Tesla SUVs that ran on electricity alone.
People who know about the situation say that the two men and their teams have been getting more and more angry with each other over the past few months. Some of these people said that Mr. Brin has told his financial advisers to sell his personal shares in Mr. Musk’s companies. It was not possible to find out how big these investments are or if any of them have been sold.
Records from Santa Clara County Superior Court show that Mr. Brin filed for a divorce from Nicole Shanahan in January of this year, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the reason. People said that Mr. Brin filed for divorce a few weeks after he found out about the short affair.
A person close to Ms. Shanahan says that Mr. Brin and his wife were separated but still living together when the alleged affair happened in early December. In the paperwork for the divorce, Mr. Brin said that the couple would split up on December 15, 2021.
A lawyer for Mr. Brin didn’t want to say anything. Mr. Musk didn’t answer when asked for his opinion. A spokesperson for Ms. Shanahan, who runs a foundation focused on reproductive justice, also didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In an interview with the news website Puck at the beginning of this month, Ms. Shanahan said of the divorce filing, “I hope Sergey and I can move on with dignity, honesty, and peace for the sake of our child.” We’re both working toward that goal.”
In the past two months, a lot of people have been interested in Mr. Musk’s personal life. He has been accused of exposing himself to a flight attendant at his aerospace company, SpaceX, which he has denied. The magazine Business Insider said he had two children late last year with a female executive at another company he co-founded, Neuralink, and one of his 10 children has publicly disowned him.
This month, Mr. Musk tried to get out of a deal to buy Twitter, saying that the company hadn’t given him enough information to figure out how many fake or spam accounts there are. Twitter said it had “done everything it could” to get the information out. It has sued Mr. Musk to make him keep the deal, and a Delaware court has agreed to a fast trial in October.
A person who knows Mr. Brin and his wife of almost four years, Ms. Shanahan, says that they met at the yoga retreat Wanderlust about seven years ago. Both Brin and Shanahan had been married before. Brin was married to Anne Wojcicki, who was a co-founder of the genetics company 23andMe Inc., and Shanahan was married to a finance executive. With Ms. Wojcicki, Mr. Brin has two kids.
People who knew Mr. Brin and Ms. Shanahan well say that their marriage was already having trouble in the fall of 2021. This was mostly because of Covid pandemic shutdowns and taking care of their 3-year-old daughter.
People said that the meeting with Mr. Musk happened at the Art Basel event in Miami in early December 2021. Art Basel is an annual event that lasts for several days and is attended by wealthy people from all over the world.
People who knew about the incident say that Mr. Musk got down on one knee in front of Mr. Brin at a party earlier this year and begged for forgiveness, saying he was sorry for what he had done.
People said that Mr. Brin said he was sorry, but they also said that he still doesn’t talk to Mr. Musk very often.
After Mr. Musk broke up with his on-and-off girlfriend, the singer Grimes, in September, he is said to have had an affair with another woman. In December 2021, Mr. Musk and Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, had a daughter through a surrogate. Last fall, Mr. Musk’s twins with Shivon Zilis, who is the CEO of Neuralink, were also born.
People who know about the talks say that Mr. Brin and Ms. Shanahan are in the process of getting a divorce and that Ms. Shanahan wants more than $1 billion.
People say that the two sides have not yet reached a deal. Mr. Brin’s side says that Ms. Shanahan is asking for much more than her prenuptial agreement gives her. People say that Ms. Shanahan’s side says that her request is a small part of Mr. Brin’s $95 billion fortune and that she was forced to sign the prenuptial agreement while she was pregnant.
In 1998, Mr. Brin and Larry Page started Google, which is now a part of Alphabet Inc., GOOG -5.81 percent. Mr. Brin helped build Google into one of the most valuable companies in the world. He and Mr. Page quit running Alphabet in 2019, but they are both still on the board.
People who know him say that since then he has put a lot of effort into getting fit and at one point tried to learn a lot of Olympic sports. He is in charge of his family’s $4.4 billion foundation, which has given money to education and Parkinson’s research, among other things. He is also connected to an airship company called LTA Research and Exploration. He is working on a book about physics right now.