Fact Check: Did Elon Musk Visit Jeffrey Epstein After Release From Prison?

Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover of Twitter has not ridden entirely smoothly with talk of lawsuits, content moderation, and the backlash against his $8 per month "blue check" verification charge.

Recently, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has begun clamping down on "parody" accounts that impersonate public figures, insisting they make themselves known clearly by a new set of Twitter rules.

By doing so, Musk has become a victim of multiple accounts impersonating him. Among these was one tweet linking Musk to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Elon Musk and Jeffrey Epstein
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was said to have met Jeffrey Epstein after the celebrity fixer was convicted and jailed on a child prostitution charge. Pictured here, Epstein in Cambridge, MA on 9/8/04 and Musk attend Heidi Klum's 21st Annual Halloween Party on October 31, 2022 in New York City. L-R; Rick Friedman/Rick Friedman Photography/Corbis via Getty Images; Noam Galai/Getty Images for Heidi Klum

The Claim

A tweet sent on November 6, 2022, by @RespectableLawyer stated: "Hi, I'm Elon Musk (Parody). Three years after Jeffrey Epstein pled guilty to procuring a child for prostitution and shortly after his release from prison, I took my ex-wife Talulah Riley to his house (Not Parody)."

The tweet generated more than 113,000 engagements.

The Facts

Before his death in 2019, Jeffrey Epstein met a number of tech billionaires including, but not limited to, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

Details of his engagements with Musk are limited. A widely publicized photo of Epstein's co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell with Musk (which has reappeared since his Twitter takeover) has been dismissed by the Tesla CEO as a "photobomb."

However, Musk and Epstein did meet each other, according to statements made by Musk's ex-wife Talulah Riley and Musk himself.

Riley, who divorced Musk in 2016, posted a message on Twitter in 2020, addressing the photo of Maxwell and Musk together, adding that she had been to Epstein's house with Musk. While she said she only spoke for herself, Riley said she had sought Musk's permission before publicly responding about the photo.

"To my knowledge, I have never met Ghislaine Maxwell," she wrote.

"A photo of Elon and Maxwell is doing the rounds, taken at a party where I was also present. It is possible I was briefly introduced to her, but not in any way that I can remember.

"Elon and I met thousands of people over the course of our relationship. There will be countless photos of Elon with people he doesn't know/happened to be stood next to at a party.

"Elon and I went to Epstein's house in NYC once as part of an itinerary of appointments. I can't even date this to a year—we used to travel constantly for work and the situation was always pretty similar in any city/country: back-to-back meetings, a car with CPO drivers, and often a contact/ minder/ guide.

"This trip was no different. There was a man taking us round the city and introducing us to various people."

Riley added that she hoped "every victim of Epstein's finds justice and peace, and that any person involved in harming underage girls is punished to the full extent of the law."

Musk corroborated this account in a 2019 statement to Vanity Fair: "Several years ago, I was at his house in Manhattan for about 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon with Talulah [Riley], as she was curious about meeting this strange person for a novel she was writing.

"We did not see anything inappropriate at all, apart from weird art. He tried repeatedly to get me to visit his island. I declined."

Musk and Riley reportedly began dating in 2008, the same year that Epstein pled guilty to and was convicted for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute.

Epstein was convicted of these two crimes as part of a plea deal, but federal officials had identified 36 girls who were sexually abused by him, some as young as 14. He received a 13-month sentence in the Palm Beach County jail, and was released from custody on July 22, 2009.

While Epstein was permitted lenient day release terms (twelve hours a day, six days a week) it does not appear that he would have been allowed to leave the state of Florida. Even if that were permitted, a round-trip flight alone between New York and Palm Beach would have taken six hours.

With additional travel time and arranging a visit with such restrictions, there is feasibly no way that Epstein could have met Musk and Riley at this time.

Furthermore, according to reliable sources, Musk and Riley met and began dating after Epstein was jailed on June 30, 2008.

According to the biography Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (which Musk personally approved) Musk met Riley some time in July 2008. This was the month after, it says, he filed for divorce from his first wife Justine.

The book states that Musk and his friend Bill Lee "set off for London at the start of July" during which the SpaceX CEO was introduced to a "twenty two-year-old up-and coming actress named Talulah Riley."

"Musk [later] asked Riley out to dinner the next night, and she accepted," the book adds.

A footnote includes a recollection by Musk in which he said: "She did look great, but what was going through my mind was 'Oh, I guess they are a couple of models.' You know, you can't actually talk to most models.

"You just can't have a conversation. But, you know, Talulah was really interested in talking about rockets and electric cars. That was the interesting thing."

The first episode of a recent BBC documentary, The Elon Musk Show, broadly matches this timeline of events, describing how he visited London after filing for divorce from Justine and includes an interview with Riley, in which she recalls their first encounter.

Details in the biography, such as Musk asking Riley if he could touch her knee and taking her back to his hotel room to watch videos about rockets, are matched in the documentary as well.

There is no evidence that suggests Musk met Riley before this date or otherwise met with Epstein (with or without Riley) before this date either.

It's worth mentioning the tweet itself is somewhat confusingly worded, with one interpretation being that there may have been more than one encounter with Epstein: one shortly after Epstein's release from prison and one three years after his conviction.

Epstein did return to New York after his sentence in Florida. Then in March 2011 (nearly three years after his conviction), Epstein was photographed at a "Billionaire's dinner" attended by Musk.

A Buzzfeed investigation uncovered photos that show Epstein at the event, with Musk photographed separately.

It is not clear whether Musk and Epstein spoke at the event, nor whether it was the meeting implied in the tweet.

In any case, whether or not the tweet does refer to one or two meetings, corroborating statements from Musk and Riley, news reports, biographies and other sources confirm that the now-divorced couple would have met Epstein after he was released from prison.

Newsweek has contacted SpaceX, Tesla and Talulah Riley's representatives for comment.

The Ruling

True

True.

Talulah Riley has stated on Twitter that she and Musk visited Epstein's house briefly among a list of appointments while visiting New York City.

This account was corroborated by Musk in a statement to Vanity Fair.

While the encounter was described as brief, it does appear, based on the timeline of Riley and Musk's relationship, they met after Epstein had served a 13-month sentence for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute.

According to two biographical sources, Riley and Musk met each other for the first time after Epstein pled guilty.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team

True: The claim is verifiably correct. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be true.
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