The ongoing defamation lawsuit between Elon Musk and British diver Vernon Unsworth, whom Musk called a “pedo guy” in an impromptu tweet last summer amid the widely publicized Thai cave rescue mission, has been a gold mine of surprising facts about the billionaire entrepreneur lately.
First, it was revealed that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO had no money (which we sort of already knew). In a court filing related to the defamation case last month, Musk told lawyers representing Unsworth that he was “financially illiquid” and had no cash pay the $75,000 in damages demanded by the plaintiff.
Then, this month another filing shows that Musk would sometimes destroy his cellphones on purpose—yes, like criminals breaking burner phones in movies. (Also, take note, Jeff Bezos!)
“For security purposes, Mr. Musk regularly changes his cellular device, at which time his old device is imaged, wiped clean, and stored or destroyed,” a SpaceX employee said in a statement to the court dated October 1.
“Mr. Musk updates his phone (like lots of other people) and Mr. Musk occasionally has to change his phone for reasons that have to do with security and sensitive information,” Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, told Business Insider this week.
In June and July of 2018, an international rescue effort was coordinated soon after a 12-person schoolboy soccer team was found trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Volunteering to help out, Musk reached out to the Thai government and ordered engineers at SpaceX and the Boring Company to design a kid-sized submarine to be used in the rescue mission.
Unsworth, who had been exploring the cave for years and served as an advisor to the rescue team at the time, said Musk’s plan had no chance of working because of the narrow passage inside that cave and alleged that the whole proposal was a PR stunt. Offended, Musk, who supposedly didn’t personally know Unsworth, called him a “pedo guy” in an angry tweet without providing any evidence.
Musk subsequently apologized and deleted the tweet. But two months later, after the boys were successfully rescued (without the use of Musk’s proposed submarine), Unsworth hit the American entrepreneur with a defamation lawsuit. The case went to trial earlier this month.
Aside from bizarre revelations about his financial situation and work habits, pre-trial court documents have also shown that Musk had hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Unsworth and had pressured the Thai government to say nice things about his mini-submarine during the rescue mission.