Apparently, balancing business and pleasure is difficult for South African-born billionaire Elon Musk. The head of battery carmaker Tesla Motors and rocket company SpaceX has filed for divorce – for a second time – from wife Talulah Riley, a British actress.
Depending upon how you count, it becomes the second or third divorce for the handsome, if eccentric, Musk, who had five children with his first wife.
“Elon Musk and his wife Talulah Riley have announced that they are ending their marriage amicably,” said a brief statement by a spokesman for the couple, noting they filed their petition for divorce with Los Angeles Country Superior Court on New Year’s Eve.
Musk and Riley originally married in 2010 then split up two years later, though Musk, an inveterate user of social media, quickly tweeted that “I will love you forever,” adding his belief that Riley, “will make someone very happy one day.”
The couple remarried in July 2013, but they apparently have lived apart for at least the past five months while Riley directed her first feature film, Scottish Mussel, in the U.K. According to a statement, Riley “has decided to remain in the U.K. to pursue her career.” But it claimed that the two “remain friends.”
According to the divorce papers, Riley will receive $16 million as a settlement. It was not stated whether the couple had a prenuptial agreement in place.
The 43-year-old Musk has apparently not been very lucky in love. He went through a far less amicable divorce from his first wife, the Canadian-born science fiction writer Justine Musk, in 2010. The divorce was complicated not by their five children – including triplets – but by her decision to detail the proceedings in a blog.
At the time of that original breakup, Musk claimed to have had little cash left after heavily investing in Tesla and SpaceX, along with other ventures. His wealth has since soared to an estimated $8 billion, according to Forbes’ annual report on the richest Americans, as Tesla’s shares have skyrocketed.
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In an interview with magazine Marie Claire, Justine Musk described herself as a “starter wife.” She noted that during their wedding party he made it clear he was the “alpha in this relationship.” When she protested, and said she wasn’t an employee, Musk reportedly told his then-new wife, “If you were my employee, I would fire you.”
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Born in South Africa, but educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk made his first fortune in a series of dot-com ventures, including Zip2, an online publishing software firm, and then PayPal, the online payment service that was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.2 billion.
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He launched his rocket company that same year. It now has a contract worth as much as $3.1 billion to supply the International Space Station, and is also developing a module to take humans to the orbiting lab to replace the Russian flights used since the retirement of the space shuttle.
Musk later got into the electric car business with Tesla. The firm’s stock had a meteoric rise last year, and is still running at over $200 a share – despite tumbling from a 52-week high of $291.42 as investors question the impact of cheap gas on battery-car sales.