At 68, Maye Musk, the Mother of Elon, Is Reclaiming the Spotlight (Published 2016) (2022)


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At 68, Maye Musk, the Mother of Elon, Is Reclaiming the Spotlight (Published 2016) (1)

By Laura M. Holson

The DVF Awards hosted by Diane von Furstenberg three weeks ago was filled with Botox blondes, crowding the bar in black cocktail dresses. Towering above them in stiletto heels and snugly fitting snow-white lace that matched her bobbed hair was Maye Musk, escorted by Marina Arsenijevic, a Serbian concert pianist.

“Isn’t it nice to see a real woman?” said Ms. Arsenijevic, pointing to her friend. Ms. Musk laughed, her blue-gray eyes twinkling.

Ms. von Furstenberg’s team had dressed her that afternoon. Tina Brown walked by, absorbed in her smartphone. “They both invited me,” Ms. Musk whispered of Ms. Brown and Ms. von Furstenberg. “I hope I get to meet them tonight.”

After dinner, Ms. von Furstenberg was indeed walked over by an organizer to Ms. Musk. “You look so beautiful,” said the designer, clasping her guest’s hands. Ms. Brown came over too, as did the Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor, and all four women posed together for photographers.


Ms. Musk, 68, is the mother of Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur whose Tesla line of electric cars, interest in space exploration and two rocky marriages have intrigued even the most jaded of New York society. Now she is seizing her own moment in the moonlight.

“I was famous until Elon became famous,” Ms. Musk said, half-joking, over oatmeal at Café Luxembourg the day before.

She has appeared in a Beyoncé video, in Revlon ads and in 1996 was featured on boxes of Special K cereal. And at a moment when marketers are looking for authentic representations of women at all ages, her modeling career is getting renewed life.

Last September, Ms. Musk wore a shimmering white gown by the designer Malan Breton in her first New York Fashion Week runway show. In December, she attended a party for the Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli at Art Basel Miami Beach. More recently, she was a guest at Ms. Brown’s Women in the World conference. And on Monday, Ms. Musk will accompany Elon to the Met Gala.

“We are at a point where people are demanding diversity and inclusion,” said Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models, which has begun representing Ms. Musk. He added, “People want to see age and size because that is who their friends are.”

But his client’s motivation is simpler. “I just want to work,” she said.


She was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1948, a twin and one of five children, and moved with her family to Pretoria, South Africa, in 1950. Her parents, Joshua and Wyn Haldeman, had a thriving chiropractic practice and a thirst for adventure. In 1952, the couple flew 22,000 miles around the world in a plane Mr. Haldeman brought in pieces from Canada.

Every June or July for nearly a decade, the family Haldeman roamed the Kalahari desert in search of its fabled Lost City, retracing the steps of William Leonard Hunt, also known as Guillermo Farini, a Canadian explorer. Ms. Musk said she and her siblings slept outside, either in the back of the truck or on the ground with the tops of their sleeping bags over their heads “so the hyenas wouldn’t eat our faces.”

Her mother prepared maps and slide shows of the trips, which she shared with ladies’ groups and other travelers. “My parents were very famous, but they were never snobs,” Ms. Musk said.

Interested in science, Maye also grew into a striking young woman. A finalist in the 1969 Miss South Africa beauty competition, she modeled on weekends, including runway shows and catalog shoots.

In 1970, she married Errol Musk, an engineer she had met in high school, and a year later, Elon was born, followed by another son, Kimbal, and a daughter, Tosca. Ms. Musk earned a master’s degree in dietetics from the University of the Orange Free State in South Africa. (And later another in nutritional sciences from the University of Toronto.)

She worked at home, counseling nutrition clients, while modeling for extra money. The marriage, though, lasted barely nine years, and Ms. Musk left Pretoria for Durban, a coastal town. “I think it’s tougher being in an unhappy marriage,” she said, than being a single mother.

In his teens, Elon moved to Pretoria to live with his father, followed by Kimbal. “I think, at the end of the day, she was very hurt,” said Tosca, 41, who stayed with her mother. Ms. Musk would say only that it was “sad,” and that their relationship is now good. Kimbal and Elon were not made available for interviews, but in statements Kimbal called his mother “amazing” and “dynamic”; Elon chose “awesome.”

With South Africa in upheaval over its apartheid policy, Elon wanted to pursue his interest in technology in Canada, where Ms. Musk’s relatives lived and where she was still a citizen. To pay for his trip to Toronto, Ms. Musk said she sold stock she gave Elon when he was born. “I got a collect call,” she recalled. “He said: ‘I’m at the airport. What do I do now?’” Their Canadian relatives weren’t home. “I told him to go to the Y.M.C.A.”

She moved with Tosca to a rent-controlled apartment in Toronto a year later. “We were not wildly rich people; people forget that,” said Tosca, now a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. Kimbal, a restaurateur and investor, joined his siblings soon after.

“The children knew they wouldn’t have a future in South Africa,” said Julia Perry, Ms. Musk’s longtime stylist.

Elon and Kimbal asked their mother to move to San Francisco in 1996, where they started Zip2, a software company. “I was lonely there,” she said. Her children threw her a 50th birthday party at the home of an investor. “Julia flew into San Francisco and said, ‘We have to get you a nice dress,’” recalled Ms. Musk, adding she told her, “‘I can’t afford this.’”


Ms. Perry had a dress made for Ms. Musk, she said, a gift she believed was from her children. “They gave me a tiny wooden house and wooden car,” she said. “They said, ‘Someday we will buy you a house and a car.’” She now drives a Tesla and owned an apartment in New York for 13 years before moving to Los Angeles in 2013 after visiting Tosca, who had just had twins on her own.

Now the Musk family gets together for regular dinners, often at home because Elon is interrupted when they go out. Ms. Musk says she gets at least 100 requests a month from people who want to meet her son.

“It’s all about a pitch,” she said. “I had a New York photographer Facebook Messenger me yesterday and said, ‘Let’s get together for coffee.’” She hadn’t seen him in six years and asked why. “He said, ‘I have a project I want to run by you,’ and I know what that means,” she said. “He’s got a project he wants Elon to finance.” Ms. Musk politely deferred the request.

But being Elon’s mother also has its perks. Last September, Ms. Musk and Nell Rebowe, another model, attended the Banana Republic presentation during New York Fashion Week. There, Charlotte McKinney, the curvaceous GQ cover girl and Carl’s Jr. pitchwoman, walked in with a friend, Zachary Scott, a 26-year-old technology entrepreneur.

“Nell,” Ms. Musk said she told her friend, “we have to get a photo with her because it will increase our Instagram followers. I thought: ‘Oh gosh. I am really going to drop Elon’s name. How else are we going to get a photo?’”

Ms. Musk was introduced to Mr. Scott. “Do you know Elon Musk?” she asked, adding, “He’s my son.” Mr. Scott shouted to Ms. McKinney. “This is Elon Musk’s mother!”

Ms. Musk got her photograph — and more. Mr. Scott was also Ms. McKinney’s business manager. The two exchanged email addresses, and, in the following month, discussed her modeling career.

“I saw she had 15 agencies in markets all over the world,” Mr. Scott said. “So I sent her an email and said: ‘Are you happy with your agencies? They are all small and I think you could have better representation.’”


Modeling in Los Angeles is tough: fewer fashion shoots, more actresses increasing the competition. “She knew I was obsessed with Elon,” Mr. Scott said. “But then she said she was having to go to casting calls and sit in a lawn chair, and I thought: ‘This is crazy. You’re Maye Musk. How could they treat you that way?’”

He agreed to be her business manager, teaming with Marlon Stoltzman, a fashion agent from South Africa who manages Candice Swanepoel. Mr. Scott said he renegotiated Ms. Musk’s outstanding contracts and began searching for a new home.

Mr. Bart of IMG Models started getting calls from agents and others about Ms. Musk last December, and met with her soon after at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, Calif.

“She was vocal about wanting to elevate her brand,” he said. But though Ms. Musk is interested in promoting fitness and health, she said she would not take a modeling job that would embarrass her 10 grandchildren. “They don’t want to see grandma naked,” she said.

“She is the sort of person that it does not matter if it is Vogue or catalog work,” Mr. Bart said. “She loves to be in the studio. And that is what we are going to do.”

On a recent Monday, Ms. Musk met with Ms. Perry at the design office of Yuna Yang, who is creating Ms. Musk’s outfit for the Met Gala. With the evening’s theme technological, Ms. Yang had constructed an electric-blue pantsuit and cape embellished with brocade, lace and airy ostrich feathers, to be worn with nude Ferragamo heels. Ms. Musk ducked behind a rack of dresses to slip into the outfit, which Ms. Yang and an assistant adjusted to fit her shape.

They debated whether she should wear a one-piece undergarment. “I’ve done the jumpsuit thing,” Ms. Musk said. “It takes a half-hour to take it off, and then people think you got lost.”

She held up her finger. She smiled and shifted her hip. She pouted like a schoolgirl.

“This is my party,” she said, and beamed.


Continue reading the main story


What did Elon Musk mother do? ›

Maye Musk (née Haldeman; born April 19, 1948) is a model and dietitian. She has been a model for 50 years, appearing on the covers of magazines, including a Time magazine health edition, Women's Day, international editions of Vogue, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Who started PayPal Elon Musk? ›

PayPal and SpaceX

In 1999 Zip2 was bought by the computer manufacturer Compaq for $307 million, and Musk then founded an online financial services company,, which later became PayPal, which specialized in transferring money online. The online auction eBay bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

What Is Elon Musk's ethnicity? ›

Musk has British and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. His mother is Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian born in Saskatchewan, Canada and raised in South Africa.

Are Maye Musk and Elon Musk related? ›

Maye Musk is always down to spend time with her son Elon Musk — even if it means her lodgings aren't the most glamorous. In a sweeping new profile for The Times in the U.K., the model and activist, 74, opened up about a range of topics, including her bond with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, 51.

Who is Elon Musk's wife? ›

Elon Musk

What languages does Elon Musk speak? ›

Elon Musk speaks 2 languages to varying levels. Elon Musk speaks English and Afrikaans. English is his first language as he was born to English-speaking parents and went to English-speaking schools.

Why is Elon Musk so rich? ›

Musk is a South Africa-born billionaire entrepreneur who serves as CEO of Tesla, a popular electric vehicle manufacturer, and SpaceX. Musk made an early fortune founding PayPal in 1999. EBay bought the company in 2002 for $1.5 billion, and Musk made $180 million from the deal, Time Magazine reported.

What is Elon Musk's net worth? ›

Elon Musk's net worth

His current estimated net worth of $254 billion has grown tremendously since the start of 2020, when it stood at about $27.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Who owns the Tesla? ›

Elon Musk co-founded and leads Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company. As the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Elon leads all product design, engineering and global manufacturing of the company's electric vehicles, battery products and solar energy products.

How does Elon Musk make money? ›

Key takeaways. Elon Musk has made most of his money by investing in ideas and companies he is passionate about. After PayPal was acquired by eBay, he used his significant stake in the company to fund the creation of SpaceX.

Why is Elon Musk so successful? ›

The open mindset of big thinking is one of the prime factors of his success. Elon always had big plans and big dreams. He believes in the fact that big dreams prepare us for a higher level and demand higher work output with different thinking.

Has Elon Musk ever invented anything? ›

Zip2 and PayPal

Musk founded several companies over the years. He started by creating Zip2 in 1995, which Compaq bought in 1999 for US$307 million.

Why did Elon Musk's wife leave? ›

Justine and Elon tried couples counseling before Elon filed for divorce. Following what Justine called a "wake-up call" car accident, she realized it was time for a change in her relationship.

When did Elon Musk get rich? ›

His stake in the business netted him $180 million when it was bought by eBay in 2009. In 2002, he founded SpaceX with an ambition to colonise Mars using affordable rockets. The following year, he ploughed $6 million into Tesla despite the company having not even produced a real car.

Which programming language did Elon Musk learn first? ›

In 1983 Elon Musk developed his first game called Blaster which was a space shooting game that he developed in an unspecified programming language. Later on, he sold his first developed game Blaster to a Magazine Company for $500 with all the source code. The owner later in early 2000s reprogramed it in HTML.

Who spoke the most languages? ›

The record, though, probably belongs to Sir John Bowring, Governor of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859, who was said to know 200 languages, and capable of speaking 100. Read more: What happens in our brain when we learn languages?

Who is SpaceX owned by? ›

SpaceX was formed by entrepreneur Elon Musk in the hopes of revolutionizing the aerospace industry and making affordable spaceflight a reality. The company entered the arena with the Falcon 1 rocket, a two-stage liquid-fueled craft designed to send small satellites into orbit.

Who is the youngest billionaire? ›

Bill Gates. Bill Gates became the world's youngest-ever billionaire at the age of 31 in 1987. In 1995, he became the world's richest man with a net worth of $12.9 billion.

Who is the richest person to ever live? ›

Mansa Musa, or Musa I of Mali is considered one of the richest people ever. Musa was the ninth emperor of the Mali Empire, one of the prosperous Sahelian kingdoms that developed along the trans-saharan trade routes in the later medieval period.

Who is the richest man in the world 2022? ›

Like every month, here's the list of the top 10 persons in the world for September 2022. Elon Musk is at the top of the list with a net worth of $273.5 billion.

How much does Elon Musk make an hour? ›

Elon Musk makes approximately $81.25 million per hour.

To put it into perspective, the average person in the US makes $32.08 per hour. This means that it would take you over three thousand years to make Elon Musk's hourly pay.

Is anyone a trillionaire? ›

As of today, there are no trillionaires who live on earth.

What is the cheapest Tesla? ›

The 2022 Tesla Model 3 has an official starting price of $46,990 for its base rear-wheel drive (RWD) trim. This makes it the cheapest Tesla car currently offered. The Model 3 is Tesla's cheapest vehicle.

How many cars does Elon Musk have? ›

Elon Musk Car Collection: Here are the 6 cars Tesla CEO owns.

What does Elon Musk drive? ›

Elon Musk has confessed that his Tesla Model S is the car he drives the most. That shouldn't be a surprise, given that the Model S is the comfiest and most accommodating vehicle in the Tesla fleet.

How many hours does Elon Musk study? ›

At the most practical level, what we can learn from Elon Musk is the modern polymath formula: Put in the time (at least five hours per week)

Does Elon still own PayPal? ›

PayPal would go on to be one of his most successful companies; Musk and his partners, including Confinity co-founder Peter Thiel, sold it to eBay in 2002 for a $1.5 billion stock deal.

How is Elon Musk a good leader? ›

Elon Musk's leadership style is transformational since it focuses on innovation and achieving large scale goals. This leadership style's strengths are innovative thinking, analysis, problem-solving, planning, and strategy execution.

What can we learn from Elon Musk? ›

Powerful Lessons you can Learn from Elon Musk
  • Be eccentric.
  • Connect ideas.
  • Follow your interests.
  • Learn constantly.
  • Assemble a great team.
  • Seek out criticism.
14 Jul 2022

Is Elon Musk a scientist? ›

Elon graduated in 1994 and moved to California. He held two summer internships in Silicon Valley before starting a PhD in Applied Physics and Materials Science at Stanford. But Musk never completed his PhD. In fact, he quit after two days to crack on with saving the world and everything.

Can you still be an inventor? ›

Many inventors work part-time as inventors and spend the rest of their time in jobs as engineers, corporate research scientists, or in academia. Still, a good idea can be worth pursuing.

How much do inventors earn? ›

Inventor Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$83,500$6,958
75th Percentile$70,500$5,875
25th Percentile$45,000$3,750

Does Elon Musk like his mother? ›

This week, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX (and soon-to-be owner of Twitter), Mr. Elon Reeve Musk, enjoyed an evening at the Met Gala with his supermodel mother Maye Musk. There's no doubt, as we celebrate this Mother's Day, that the richest man on Planet Earth loves his mom more than anything in the universe.

Where did Musk get his money? ›

Early on, Elon Musk became a self-made multa-millionaire through his shares in Zip2, the first company he founded. After a merger, his second company,, eventually became well-known as PayPal. Tesla, Inc. and its space transportation and electric car ventures grew his wealth further.

Are Elon Musk's children geniuses? ›

A Day In The Life Of Elon Musk's Genius Kids - YouTube

How did Kimbal Musk make his money? ›

Kimbal managed a residential painting business called College Pro Painters before founding Zip2 with Elon in 1995. The start-up was an online city guide that provided digital content for The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. The company was sold to Compaq for $307 million in 1999.

What did Elon Musk mom say? ›

What is Elon Musk net worth today? ›

Is Elon Musk married? ›

Elon Musk

How many hours a night does Elon Musk sleep? ›

check out: Last year, in a talk with American podcaster Joe Rogan, Musk said he "works a lot" and sleeps for "about six hours". The world's richest man said he attends work meetings "until 1 or 2 in the morning" and sometimes also works on weekends. When he slept less than six hours, he found loss in "productivity".

Who is the youngest billionaire? ›

Bill Gates. Bill Gates became the world's youngest-ever billionaire at the age of 31 in 1987. In 1995, he became the world's richest man with a net worth of $12.9 billion.

Who is No 1 richest person in the world? ›

In 2018, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was ranked at the top for the first time and became the first centibillionaire included in the ranking, surpassing Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who had topped the list 18 of the previous 24 years. In 2022, after topping the list for four years, Bezos was surpassed by Elon Musk.

Who has the most kids in the world? ›

The first wife of peasant Yakov Kirillov from the village of Vvedensky, Russia, gave birth to 57 children in a total of 21 births. She had four sets of quadruplets, seven sets of triplets and ten sets of twins.

Does Elon Musk have 7 sons? ›

Musk has twins Xavier and Griffin, 17, triplets Kai, Saxon and Damian, 15, and X Æ A-Xii, 1. His former partner Grimes, recently revealed that the couple had a second child in secret, which they have named Y. It has also been reported that in 2021 he fathered twins with a top executive at Neuralink, Shivon Zilis.

How do you pronounce Elon Musk's son's name? ›

In an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan last year, Elon Musk spoke about his son's unique name and said, “So, X is just the letter X, Æ is pronounced as Ash. And, A-12 is my contribution and it is just pronounced as A-12.” Therefore, the final pronunciation of the name is, “X Ash A Twelve.”

Who is the richest man in the world 2022? ›

Like every month, here's the list of the top 10 persons in the world for September 2022. Elon Musk is at the top of the list with a net worth of $273.5 billion.

Is Elon Musk the richest man in the world? ›

Key facts about Elon Musk

Estimated net worth of $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. He is nearly $90 billion ahead of the man in second place, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Leads four ventures: Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

How much does Elon Musk make in a day? ›

1. Elon Musk is currently the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $253 billion. In 2022, Forbes reported that Musk made $253 billion, which works out to be about $650 million per day.

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