Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc., contributed over 5 million Tesla shares in November, just days after the United Nations World Food Program unveiled a plan to leverage a $6 billion pledge from the world’s richest man.
The donation was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made public on Monday, but not the recipient. Between Nov. 19 and Nov. 29, Tesla TSLA, +1.83 percent shares were moved in batches, as Musk was also selling Tesla stock in preparation for a huge tax bill.
On Halloween, Musk vowed on Twitter TWTR, -0.42 percent that if the UN World Food Program “can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will eliminate world hunger,” he would sell Tesla stock and donate $6 billion to the organization. On Monday, Nov. 15, the program’s executive director, David Beasley, responded with a proposal, and Musk began transferring shares to a charity the following Friday.
When reached on Monday, World Food Program spokesperson Steve Taravella declined to provide any details. Tesla’s public-relations team was dismantled in 2020, and an email to the company was not replied.
In an email to MarketWatch, Taravella replied, “To protect the privacy of our supporters, WFP’s practice has always been to leave any disclosure of possible contributions up to donors themselves.”
WFP’s Beasley, who had been tagging Musk in tweets seeking financial support from prominent billionaires, did not respond publicly to Musk’s proposition. Instead, Musk spent the day after Beasley wrote it berating U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders about taxes, after Sanders, a Vermont independent and former Democratic presidential contender, tweeted: “We must insist that the extraordinarily affluent pay their fair share.” Period.”
Musk was selling millions of shares at the time in order to prepare for a hefty tax payment, as well as executing options for shares at significantly lower prices. Even with the given shares disclosed in Monday’s filing, Musk now owns 172.6 million more shares than he did when he first started selling the stock.
Since the contribution, Beasley has continued to tweet at Musk in an apparent attempt to collaborate, including a Nov. 20 message asking him to “wow us all.” Just go ahead and do it.” According to a Twitter search, he last tweeted @ Musk on December 16.
According to a federal filing, the donation might have gone to Musk’s own philanthropic organization, the Musk Foundation, which he founded in 2002 and had a little less than $1 billion in assets as of the end of June 2020. Billionaires frequently move shares to their own foundations before donating to philanthropic causes through those institutions.
Fisker Inc. FSR, +0.78 percent Chief Executive and Chairman Henrik Fisker, for example, authorized $4 million in shares to form a foundation in his and his wife’s names, as well as $1.9 million to a donor-advised fund. That decision was likewise made public in an SEC filing on Monday afternoon, though the EV business also issued a news release describing where the funds will go.
Musk took the Giving Pledge in 2012, pledging to give away half of his fortune during his lifetime or when he dies. Until last year, he was rather discreet about his generosity in comparison to some of his rich contemporaries. Musk announced a $100 million reward to aid in the fight against climate change in 2021, as well as many other donations, including a $1 million donation to a Texas food bank, according to Vox. Musk occasionally tweets about his philanthropic actions, such as a $50 million donation to children’s cancer research in September.
The 5,044,000 Tesla shares would be valued at nearly $4.42 billion at Monday’s closing price of $875.76; on Nov. 19, when Musk began the trades, the total outlay would have been worth roughly $5.74 billion at the closing price.