Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief engineer, speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington DC. Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's wild tweets this weekend about selling 10% off his Tesla stake are sending the stock into a tailspin.
Tesla shares fell nearly 10% by 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday ET Tuesday, $1,044.96 per Share, which erases $145 billion of Tesla's market value. This is the second day that Tesla has been in decline. Although Tesla's market cap remains above $1 trillion, and its shares have risen 148% over the past year, it's down 14% on Tuesday morning.
As of 1:30 PM ET, Musk's fortune had fallen to $28.5 billion. The plunge pushed Musk's net worth down to $277.4billion ET Tuesday, from $304.3billion at the close on Monday. According to Forbes, he's still the world's richest person, surpassing Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) who is the second-richest person in the world at $204.1 billion. Musk was the richest person ever to walk the earth last week, when his fortune reached $300 Billion for the first-time.
Musk started the decline in Tesla shares after he created a Twitter poll asking whether he should sell 10%. He prefaced the suggestion with a statement regarding taxes: "Much has been made lately about unrealized gains being used as a way of tax avoidance." This was in response to a failed Democratic proposal to tax billionaires' unrealized profits in public companies to harvest tax income from billionaires. Musk does not receive a salary from Tesla. He doesn't pay federal taxes on the vast fortune he has, which is most of which is in his 23% stake. Note: I don't take any cash bonus or salary from anyone. Musk tweeted Saturday that he only has stock and that the only way to pay taxes is to sell it.
Nearly 58% of users voted for him in the poll. However, he hasn’t yet completed the transaction. Musk would owe the federal government nearly $5 billion in capital gains tax if he did. He'll likely use the proceeds for additional taxes to exercise a tranche Tesla stock option expiring next year.