Elon Musk lost $50 billion over just two days this week after Tesla shares got hammered by the mere suggestion that he might sell some of his stock.
Even with that massive paper loss, Musk’s net worth still is good enough for the No. 1 spot on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. He’s $82 billion richer than the world’s second-richest man, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, according to the index’s Tuesday tally. The index lags by a day.
Tesla shares plummeted more than 16 percent over Monday and Tuesday after the iconoclastic CEO asked his more than 60 million Twitter followers over the weekend if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla holdings.
On Wednesday, the stock recovered some of those losses, but the suggestion of a big sale appeared to get investors nervous, and at the start of trade Monday, they began to rush out of the electric vehicle maker.
As the stock fell, Musk — whose net worth is closely tied to the price Tesla — saw his wealth drop from $338 billion to $288 billion, according to Bloomberg’s calculations. Bezos, at No. 2, logged a $206 billion net worth as of the close of trade Tuesday.
Some market watchers have speculated Musk could be talking about selling in preparation for a possible big tax bill if Democrats are able to pass a so-called wealth tax, though, beyond the tweet, Musk hasn’t commented specifically on any reasons he might have floated the idea of selling stock — or if he will indeed sell stock.
Musk himself asked Twitter followers if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla holdings after “much has been made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance.”
Because capital gains aren’t generally taxed until those gains are realized — like by a sale — some of the world’s richest people have been criticized for amassing huge net worths on paper without paying taxes on those gains.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Musk’s brother and a Tesla director, Kimbal Musk, sold almost $110 million in Tesla stock Friday — just a day before Musk’s now-infamous Twitter poll.
On Wednesday, Tesla shares opened sharply higher, reversing some of their gains from the start of the week — and helping recover some of the sharp losses in Elon Musk’s net worth in a matter of hours. By Wednesday afternoon, Tesla shares were up about 2.5 percent on the day.
And the stock price is still up more than 40 percent year-to-date. Over the last two years Tesla has jumped from $70 per share to more than $1,000 per share — a more than 1,300 percent increase.
The mantle of world’s richest is still relatively new for Musk — he just clinched that title earlier this year.
The talk of possible stock sales wasn’t the only drama Musk sparked on social media: On Sunday he also hurled a vulgar insult at a US senator in a bizarre Twitter exchange over taxes.
The dustup started when Sen. Ron Wyden — an Oregon Democrat who has been pushing a wealth tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s big-time spending plans — challenged Musk over taxes.
“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” Sen. Wyden wrote in response to a poll by Musk that asked whether he should sell a big chunk of his Tesla shares for tax reasons.
Musk replied with a crude, head-scratcher of an insult, which appeared to be a reference to Sen. Wyden’s profile picture.