She slept with hyenas, survived abuse and is still a top model: Maye Musk, the mother of the richest man in the world

She slept with hyenas, survived abuse and is still a top model: Maye Musk, the mother of the richest man in the world

Ageless glamour… Maye Musk with her son Elon Musk at the Vanity Fair Oscar party (Photo by Karwai Tang/Getty Images)

She was one of the first to interact publicly with Twitter’s new owner, mega tech mogul Elon Musk. And unlike the rest of mortals, perhaps the only one in the world capable of having the last word against a man with a reputation for irreverence and who many believe bought the social network just to be able to say what he wants. But she learned this unlimited freedom from a woman she recognizes as her only heroine: her mother, Maye Musk.

On Sunday, the Canadian-South African model and nutritionist retweeted her eldest son to tell in two posts an anecdote from his childhood in Durban as a teenager. “You were 14 and asked me to buy stock in a company you really believed in. A friend broker He told me it was a bad idea, so I only bought the equivalent of $1,000 at the time, which was the most I was willing to lose… Stocks quickly hit $3,000. My friend panicked and told me I had to sell, so I panicked too and sold. You weren’t happy; shares continued to climb. You also thought I was unfair in dividing the profits between you and (your brothers) Kimbal and Tosca. Who was right?

His eldest son, who earlier tweeted about the importance of not panicking when the markets do – as long as you believe in your stock value – gave Maye the benefit of the doubt, but thousands responded without giving a damn. doubting, due to the legitimacy of the results, the formula with which she educated who today is the richest person on the planet – with a fortune valued at 300,000 million dollars – qualifies her as a model mother. And not just by professional default.

It’s just that this smiling, resolute lady hasn’t had an easy life, even though it seems to be now. She arrived in Pretoria in 1950 as a baby, with her twin brother Kaye and her parents, Joshua and Winnifred Haldeman, two adventurers who circumnavigated the globe in a plane they disassembled on a ship from Canada to explore the Kalahari. desert where they fell in love with Africa.

Part of her future began to be defined at the age of 15: the young girl who returned every summer to the desert with her family in search of the Lost City and hid from the hyenas with her four brothers, covering herself sleeping bags so they wouldn’t eat her face, she entered a modeling school for her mother’s best friend, and her haughty beauty soon made her a regular face on the catwalks and in catalogs. He also met in high school the man who would change his destiny, for better or for worse: Errol Musk.

At 74, Maye Musk is a fashion icon (REUTERS / Henry Nicholls)

At 74, Maye Musk is a fashion icon (REUTERS / Henry Nicholls)

He always saves that the positive is that he gave her three wonderful children. The bad thing, the wonderful thing, is that this slightly aggressive engineer who had promised her that he would change when they got married, not only has not changed at all, but has also become an animal as fearsome as hyenas. of the desert, from which he had to escape just with the clothes. Or, in Elon’s words, “a horrible human being, who has committed almost every crime you can think of,” as he revealed to Rolling Stone magazine in 2017.

In 1969, at the age of 20, Maye was a finalist for Miss South Africa. A year later, and already with her nutrition diploma under her arm, the prettiest girl in the class marries her school friend in front of her parents and a few close friends. As he later confessed in his memoirs, A Woman Makes a Plan: Tips for a Life of Adventure, Beauty and Success (2019, translated by A woman, a project), I then had the firm intention of making her become “a good person”.

But as she fell pregnant with one child after another – Elon was born in June 1971, Kimbal in September 1972, and the youngest, Tosca, in July 1974 – and silently suffered huge blows that soon boys began to suffer too, he quickly understood that choosing a partner with the idea that he is changing can only lead to failure: “it doesn’t work”.

In South Africa, there was no divorce and Maye endured years of abuse with this wealthy, obscure engineer with ties to the emerald mines, whom she describes in her memoir as “physically, emotionally and financially manipulative and abusive”. To leave him, she had to flee with her children to Durban. She was only able to do this when things got so out of control that her husband beat her up at a social gathering and her friends managed to take her to her mother.

Until then, only Elon and Kimbal knew what was going on behind the walls of their Praetorian mansion. To console herself, Maye, still seeing patients at home and modeling occasionally when Errol allowed her to, ate desperately, around the clock. By the time she signed the divorce settlement in 1981, she had gained about 70 pounds.

But the tech mogul’s mother is not only endowed with an iron will, she was already then a pioneer of acceptance and positive for the body. And before embarking on a “flexitarian” diet -vegetarian at home, but without restrictions outside, except for the portions she tries to keep small to this day-, with which she lost 18 kilos , mainly for health reasons (she had started having joint problems because of the weight), became one of the first plus-size models.

Maye continues to walk the catwalks and enjoys an active career as a model and nutrition expert (Getty Images).

Maye continues to walk the catwalks and enjoys an active career as a model and nutrition expert (Getty Images).

It was one of five jobs he managed to move from Durban to Canada, thanks to his dual nationality, but then he ran into an additional problem: South African law prevented him from withdrawing all his savings from the continent, and Errol was unwilling to send him money for food. But there is another story about Maye’s life as an investor which she tells in her book and also shared on her son’s social media this weekend: “In 1969 I won 100 rand sud -Africans (about 6 dollars) in a beauty pageant and I invested in the stock exchange on the advice of a friend.They fell to 10 rand.In 1971, I was disappointed, but instead of selling, I put them in Elon’s name, in 1989 I found them, they had reached US$2,000 and paid for their transfer to Canada.

In One woman, one plansays the only reason her kids didn’t go hungry during the worst times, between classes at the University of Toronto and her modeling career, is because she used all the nutrition techniques she could she had learned in high school. give them bread with peanut butter and legumes so they can add calories to their diet. “I didn’t even have an appointment, lest the current candidate split the bill,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

But when Elon and Kimbal told her in 1995 that they wanted to invest in their first company, Zip 2, she was the one who gave them the initial capital of $10,000. He also took them to eat at the best restaurant in Palo Alto so they could rub shoulders with investors and raise more funds.

A year later, Maye’s career took an unexpected turn, just when most models are seeing their jobs decline. That’s when he decided to stop dyeing his hair, which now almost feels like a new post-pandemic tenure, but in the ’90s it was the closest thing to sacrilege. And even more so for a model who was about to turn fifty and who wanted to keep her contracts.

“I was the most famous in the family until Elon got famous,” Maye joked of his billionaire son (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

The first thing that happened, in fact, was that the agency he worked for got rid of his services. But within months, not only was she working at another agency, but her blue-gray eyes were popping out of the Special K cereal box: her beauty was only part of the combo, Maye was selling wellness, health, a healthy lifestyle, and something that marketing would only begin to exploit years later: a real woman.

Also in 1996, he published his first book, Feel Fantastic: Maye Musk’s Good Health Clinic. Just as before she had been a plus-size model, now she remained one regardless of her age and without needing to struggle against the passage of time in any way. Fashion brands and designers began to take inspiration from her and she became an early symbol of diversity and inclusion with her all-white hair on the F catwalks.Ashion Weeks of New York and Paris before anyone noticed the paradox that she was the mother of the richest man in the world.

With the first profits from Zip2, her kids celebrated her 50th birthday at an investor’s San Francisco mansion and gave her an expensive dress she still couldn’t afford on her own, along with a little house and a small car. , with the promise that one day they would buy him a real house and a real car. Today he has an apartment near the beach and his grandchildren in Los Angeles and drives a Tesla.

“I was the famous of the family until Elon became famous”, she had justly declared a few years ago on the red carpet of the gala of the MET, where she had arrived as the muse of Diane Von Furstenberg. And it is that her career has only taken off over the years: as with acts, her vision has allowed her to arrive just in time for the era in which the big brands are finally looking for women of all ages. Maye appeared in the music video for hauntedBeyoncé, in commercials for Revlon, Target and Virgin, and is Cover Girl’s biggest ambassador.

Firms have various explanations for the phenomenon. The most common is that consumers want to see role models they can relate to, get older, gain weight, lose weight, have things happen to them, and Maye, even though she’s rich – she alone is worth 20 million dollars – clearly has a story that shows on his face and on his body. But she, like her son, is much more specific when explaining the reasons for its validity: “I just want to keep working.”

In 2020 he said in an interview with page 6 that he’s having a blast with fashion, and that he’s no longer interested in the “dating market.” “I travel all over the world and I think anyone who wants to be with me could hardly see me. Also, he should be more fun than my dog ​​and be happier than my dog ​​when I come back, which is hard because my dog ​​is really happy to see me when I come home,” she said. . , declaring himself “eternal bachelor”.

He also assured that he learned something very well from his own experience: he never gives an opinion on the partners of his children: “I never criticize them, because my file is not very good and they know it. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a dating expert!”

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