THE RICHEST man in the world plays a an unsuspecting tune on television and Twitter but has an edgy side.
Elon Musk rails against physical possessions and loves a 420 joke but employs security strategies only the wealthy could pull off, has a shadowy fixer in his entourage and indulges in private flights.
In 2018, Musk got into a Twitter-scrap with a British diver named Vernon Unsworth that escalated to the court room.
That summer, 12 children and one adult were trapped in a cave two-and-a-half miles below the surface in Northern Thailand – Musk volunteered the assistance of his Boring Company, which digs tunnels for infrastructure (in addition to making flamethrowers).
Unsworth, who was part of the original rescue team, took a shot at Musk and called his rescue plan a "PR stunt".
Musk reciprocated, but perhaps excessively – he called Unsworth "pedo guy" and a "child rapist" – defamation lawsuits followed.
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In unsealed documents from that lawsuit, there is a glimpse into Musk's personal security strategy.
"For security purposes, Mr. Musk regularly changes his cellular device, at which time his old device is imaged, wiped clean, and stored or destroyed," the legal filings write.
A cybersecurity expert told DailyMail demolishing phones is not an outrageous strategy for a person of Musk's standing.
"In terms of security it is not the worst idea to switch out your phone, especially if you are such a public figure like Elon Musk. Just look at what happened to Jeff Bezos with his phone being hacked and certain photos being leaked," the expert wrote to DailyMail in an email.
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The little-known, hyper-loyal point man for the extremely wealthy and powerful is an archetypal character in fiction.
Batman has Alfred, Dr. Evil has No.2, Bobby Axelrod has Wags – in real life, the world's anti-hero Elon Musk has Jared Birchall.
Since 2016, Birchall has led the Musk family office and has official titles at several other Musk-led endeavors.
He has an extremely low profile, but gets in the dirt on Musk's behalf when it comes to lining up investors or communicating with unsavory characters.
Birchall speaks on Musk's behalf on occasion – ironically, speaking above his pay grade is what led to his ouster from Merrill Lynch, according to Bloomberg.
“He vehemently disagrees with censoring. Especially for a sitting president. Insane,” Birchall wrote to Charles Johnson, a tech investor who once had a career as a right-wing political player.
Johnson was banned from Twitter in 2015 after posting a tweet angling to "take out" a Black Lives Matter activist.
Through Birchall, Musk has signaled Johnson he'll get his account back "hopefully soon" according to the Wall Street Journal.
Part of Tesla's ethos is putting gasoline and fossil fuels in the past – meanwhile, the top dog flies hundreds of thousands of miles per year on a private jet.
"The one exception is the plane, but if I don't use the plane then I have less hours to work," Musk said at a TED Conference.
There is little doubt Musk truly does log hard-core working hours – tales of Musk pulling all nighters and getting in the trenches with engineers are commonplace.
But his detractors slam him relentlessly for his use of a private jet.
A teenager built a bot-powered Twitter account that tracks Musk's jet and posts the flight statistics – its a platter for haters to pile on.
One of Musk's most recent flights was a nine-minute journey to San Francisco – it would have been a 48-minute drive had he hopped in one of his Tesla vehicles.
"Elon Musk's private jet just went on a nine-minute flight but you better not put the wrong type of plastic in your recycling," wrote one Twitter user as a sting on the billionaire.
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In the past, Musk was adored as the quirky, high-minded rich guy who smoked pot with Joe Rogan.
Today, he's richer than 168 countries – his massive wealth and hostile takeover of Twitter has pulled some of the less admirable slices of his life into the spotlight.
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