Elon Musk allegedly fractured an old friendship with Google co-founder Sergey Brin after having an affair with his wife, Nicole Shanahan, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with the situation told the WSJ that the couple filed for divorce earlier this year, citing “irreconcilable differences,” however, Musk has now denied both the alleged affair and said he is still friends with Brin, claiming the report is based only on “third-party random hearsay.”
Musk and Shanahan’s affair allegedly occurred at the high-profile Art Basel event in Miami following Musk’s split with then-girlfriend Claire Boucher, also known as Grimes. Sources tell the WSJ that Brin and Shanahan were separated but still living together at the time. The couple’s relationship was reportedly strained due to issues related to the COVID-19 lockdowns and their three-year-old daughter.
After the report was published, Musk responded via Twitter, calling the story “total bs.” According to Musk, “Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night! I’ve only seen Nicole twice in three years, both times with many other people around. Nothing romantic.” In another reply, the billionaire exec said, “Haven’t even had sex in ages (sigh).”
Musk’s personal life is never far removed from his business, and that hasn’t changed even as the world’s richest man attempts to exit his $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter. Earlier this month, a report from Insider revealed that Musk had twins with Shivon Zillis, a top executive at his company Neuralink and a former employee of Tesla. The twins were born just weeks before a surrogate gave birth to Musk and Boucher’s second child, bringing Musk’s number of known children to nine.
In May, a former SpaceX flight attendant accused the company of paying her $250,000 to keep quiet about an incident involving Musk. The victim claims Musk asked her for a massage, exposed himself to her, and propositioned her for sex.
Brin, meanwhile, was once called “the Google playboy” for his sexual involvement with employees, with human resources manager Heather Cairns calling his behavior “a sexual harassment claim waiting to happen.” A 2014 Vanity Fair report detailed Brin’s relationship with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg, which occurred while he was still married to 23andMe co-creator Anne Wojcicki, and she was dating another Google executive. After Brin and Wojcicki divorced in 2015, Brin secretly got married to Shanahan in 2018. According to the WSJ, Shanahan’s seeking an over $1 billion slice of Brin’s nearly $100 billion fortune as part of the divorce process.
As detailed in the report, Brin and Musk had been close friends. Brin offered the Musk-owned Tesla $500,000 in funding during the 2008 recession, and Musk returned the favor by making Brin one of the first customers to own the Model X in 2015. Sources tell the WSJ that Musk went so far as to get on one knee and beg Brin for his forgiveness during a party earlier this year. The report claims the two still aren’t speaking on a frequent basis, and that Brin has told advisers to sell his personal investments in Musk’s companies.
Update July 25th, 12:48AM ET: Updated with tweets from Elon Musk denying the Wall Street Journal report.
Elon Musk Denies Allegation He Had Affair with Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin’s Wife Nicole Shanahan
“Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night!” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter Sunday night, adding: “Haven’t even had sex in ages (sigh)”
Elon Musk has denied any romantic involvement with Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s estranged wife.
The Tesla founder responded on Twitter after the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, that Musk, 51, was involved in a “brief affair” with Nicole Shanahan last fall and cited people familiar with the matter.
The outlet reported that Musk and Brin were previously longtime friends, with Brin even giving Musk $500,000 for Tesla during the 2008 financial crisis. Musk has said over the years that he “regularly crashed” at Brin’s home in Silicon Valley, the WSJ also reported.
However, the publication’s sources reportedly said that there has been increasing tension between the two moguls and their teams following the alleged “liaison” in December 2021, with Brin requesting that his financial advisers sell his personal investments in Musk’s companies.
Representatives for Musk, Brin and Shanahan did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment and did not comment to the WSJ.
Musk replied to a Twitter user who shared the WSJ article with a caption stating that Musk “allegedly banged Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s wife leading to the couple’s divorce filing” and that “the two are apparently no longer friends.”
“This is total bs. Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night!” Musk hit back in a post on Twitter Sunday night. “I’ve only seen Nicole twice in three years, both times with many other people around. Nothing romantic.”
RELATED: Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin, World’s 6th Richest Person, Files for Divorce from Nicole Shanahan
Musk added elsewhere in the thread: “Haven’t even had sex in ages (sigh).”
Brin filed for a dissolution of marriage from Shanahan back in early January, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Together the pair share a young daughter. Brin was previously married to 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki from 2007 to 2015, and they share son Benji, 13, and daughter Chloe, 11.
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Brin cited “irreconcilable differences” in his separation from Shanahan, Business Insider first reported, noting that the pair owned joint assets but how they were to be divided was “to be determined.”
Additionally, Brin asked for joint custody of their daughter. He also said that he is not seeking spousal support from Shanahan and requested she not be awarded it either.
Brin and Shanahan enlisted a private “temporary judge” to preside over the case, according to Business Insider.
Brin filed in Santa Clara Superior Court as California deals with a backlogged system. The private temporary judge will allow the couple to expedite their divorce despite the backlogged courts. It also ensures a higher level of privacy.
RELATED VIDEO: Elon Musk Had Twins Last Year with Exec Shivon Zilis Just Weeks Before His & Grimes’ Baby Was Born
“Petitioner is a co-founder of Google and one of the wealthiest and most famous technology entrepreneurs in the world. Because of the high-profile nature of their relationship, there is likely to be significant public interest in their dissolution and child custody issues,” Brin’s attorney wrote in a filing, adding: “Of great concern is that such publicity puts their minor child at risk of danger, harassment, and even kidnapping, if the specifics of their day-to-day whereabouts are exposed to the public.”
The Russian-American internet entrepreneur co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998, and although they both stepped down from their executive positions with the search engine’s holding company Alphabet in 2019, Brin still retains a controlling stake, according to Forbes.