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Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk has set a new world record for losing the most money in human history. Mr. Musk became the world's richest man during the coronavirus pandemic, as stock markets soared after dropping by one-third during the early days of the virus outbreak.
However, a tumultuous 2022 marked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Federal Reserve's efforts to combat soaring inflation hit stock markets hard just as they were recovering. In the process, Mr. Musk has now lost billions of dollars and is the only person in human history to have lost more than a hundred billion dollars. This is a new record, confirmed by Guinness World Records in a blog post earlier this week.
Elon Musk's Net Worth Sets A World Record As Tesla Fares Better Than Other Electric Vehicle Companies
Mr. Musk's Tesla ownership consists of two portions. Most of the shares are owned by the Elon Musk Revocable Trust, and the remainder is owned by Musk directly. The executive was under the media spotlight last year for selling shares to buy Twitter, and all these sales were of the shares held by Musk's trust. The last sale of shares he directly owned came in December 2021, when Musk sold roughly nine thousand shares. After the sale, the directly owned shares stood at 620,086 - a figure that hasn't changed since then.
By the end of 2021, Musk had cumulatively owned roughly 178 million Tesla shares. Before the stock split last year, his net worth had crossed $300 billion in November 2021 as Tesla's shares soared after Hertz announced a major deal with the company. Tesla split its shares into three in mid-2022, and as of now, Musk owns a little over 424 million shares. Whether more sales are due just so his ownership sits at his favorite figure of 420 is, of course, uncertain, and the figure is derived by adding his direct ownership to the shares owned by his trust.
In addition to the Tesla stock, Musk also owns 42% of SpaceX. His aerospace firm is valued at $137 billion as part of the latest funding round, providing another $57.5 billion to the billionaire's net worth. Given Tesla's latest closing share price of $113, Musk's stake in the company is worth $47.9 billion; cumulatively, his net worth estimate as of January 8, 2023, is $105.4 billion. Using Forbes' estimate of Musk's highest net worth being $306.4 billion in November 2021, he has lost exactly $201 billion in just over a year.
This drop has also been noticed by Guinness World Records, which has confirmed that Musk now holds the record for having lost the most money in human history. According to the agency, the previous record was held by Softbank chairman Masayoshi Son, who had lost $58.6 billion in 2000 in the aftermath of the Dotcom bubble.
2022 hasn't been kind to Tesla, as a weakening Chinese economy and rapid interest rate hikes have weakened investor sentiment in both the company and the broader stock market. Musk's Twitter tryst, which has seen him pump $44 billion into the social media network - reminiscent of comic book billionaires who buy companies at a whim - hasn't helped either.
Tesla's shares have plummeted by 68% over the past 12 months, buoyed only slightly by a 2% gain in the first week of 2023. This has outpaced the broader stock market, with the NASDAQ composite down by 30% between Januaries 2022 and 2023. Comparison with other car companies also paints a bleak picture for Musk's firm, with General Motors, Ford and Toyota losing 41%, 47.2% and 21.2% of their values over the same period.
However, pure-play electric vehicle companies such as Lucid Motors, Rivian and Canoo have lost 85%, 80% and 84% of their value - indicating that the electric vehicle value proposition to investors has taken a hit as a whole as well. Only Li Auto, a Chinese firm set up in 2015, has beaten the NASDAQ index by losing 24% of its value during the twelve months that ended on the first week of January.