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Elon Musk denies Jeffrey Epstein advised him or Tesla during the company's bungled attempt to go private

Bryan Logan , Business Insider US
 Aug 13, 2019, 08:32 PM
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southe
(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
  • Jeffrey Epstein told a New York Times reporter that he had advised Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the frenetic few weeks in summer 2018 when Musk had sought to take the electric-car company private.
  • According to the newspaper's James B. Stewart, he asked Epstein about rumblings that he had also been approached by someone close to Musk who sought his help to find a new chairman for the electric-car company. A spokesperson for Musk denies this.
  • The alleged anecdotes from Epstein, among others reported on Monday, add to the picture of the disgraced financier who had been held in federal lockup in New York on sex-trafficking charges until he died of an apparent suicide on Saturday.
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Jeffrey Epstein claimed to have been an adviser to Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, a New York Times reporter said on Monday, two days after Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide while in federal lockup on sex-trafficking charges.

Epstein allegedly said he had been looking for people to invest in Tesla. The Times' James B. Stewart wrote that he heard a rumor that Epstein had an email from someone close to Musk who sought help finding a new chairman.

The alleged anecdotes were part of a comprehensive retelling of a confidential August 16, 2018, interview between Stewart and Epstein. Following Epstein's death, Stewart said he considered the "on background" agreement moot.

The reporter visited with Epstein at his New York home, where the financier talked about his connections with the titans of industry and politics. Epstein claimed that he had friends at Tesla, but never went into much detail, according to The Times.

"It is incorrect to say that Epstein ever advised Elon or Tesla on anything," a spokesperson for Musk told Business Insider on Monday.

The multimillionaire financier allegedly cited the fact that his history of sexual misconduct targeting underaged girls made him "radioactive." (He pleaded guilty to two state counts of soliciting prostitution in 2008, and in July of this year was indicted on one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking related to the alleged abuse of underage girls as young as 14.)

The timing of the interview between the newspaper and Epstein last summer - including Epstein's claim that he had spoken to the Saudis about investing in Tesla - coincides with a tweet Musk sent on August 13, 2018, in which Musk said he had met with the Saudis a month earlier.

The Times reporter acknowledged that Epstein was never entirely clear about his claimed interactions with Tesla or Musk.

"While I can't say anything he said was an explicit lie, much of what he said was vague or speculative and couldn't be proved or disproved," he said.

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