Elon Musk has several impressive legacies. The billionaire tech mogul helped make billions of dollars a year for Tesla and SpaceX. Musk has a genius-level IQ and is apparently able to pull off dramatic publicity stunts. Musk has also, before now, kept quiet on matters not directly related to his business interests, but for the most part chooses to let Twitter do the talking.
But Musk is now stepping on some toes in the philanthropic realm, infuriating fans by giving away 1 billion bucks to secretive arts group T-shirt designers under the condition they not release T-shirts based on his designs.
Musk met with his fans and journalists at their offices on Monday night to explain his mysterious giveaway. “I should have said (because people have asked this question), there is no winner,” he said. “But there are royalties, unfortunately.”
Musk said he had given away 1 billion dollars and was willing to do it again if folks wanted more money to fund their projects.
Musk’s philanthropic movement is what he calls “Project Prize,” and it was set up to fund artists and artists-in-residence “working on their dream project.” Musk said a T-shirt designer, who has been a T-shirt fan, came up with the idea.
Musk said T-shirt designers came up with the idea of designing T-shirts that would resemble his startup vehicles, like the Tesla Model 3, Model S and Model X. The creators “are going to give away $1 billion for this, and they’re not going to sell any of these T-shirts. They’re not going to publicize any of this.”
Since he owns “a majority” of SpaceX, and “It’s called SpaceX,” Musk said he felt he could use the company to help fund the program. But that didn’t sit well with some of his fans who found the move insulting.
“Musk says ‘T=T is P = T,’ I now have to argue that T = SpaceX is P = T,” Robert N. of Baltimore wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
Others criticized Musk for being tone deaf, since he owns the extremely popular T-shirt company’s stock and faces public criticism for his mishandling of a crisis at Tesla.
“Musk, you donate to silent art shows because you’re conservative,” Cole M. wrote. “Not your charisma.”
Musk has sold about 8 million Tesla shares since June 2018, netting him about $1.2 billion. T-shirt sales are the second biggest revenue generator after the company’s vehicles sales.
Welp, the dog days of summer for Musk. The billionaire has stated on his Twitter account he will no longer tweet about his personal projects, such as his Roadster or SpaceX. But he says he will instead focus on things that benefit society such as solar power.
“The kind of things I’m doing in architecture and design and futurism have been the most fun,” Musk said. “I want to, like, focus on society.”