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Elon Musk’s Texas living arrangements may not be nearly as spartan as he claims

AUSTIN, Texas — When Time magazine last week named Elon Musk “Person of the Year,” it painted a spartan picture of his living arrangements. “The richest man in the world does not own a house,” the piece began.

The magazine was repeating what has become a core element of Musk’s public persona. Since last year, when the billionaire Tesla Inc.
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 and SpaceX CEO announced he was “selling almost all physical possessions” in an effort to simplify his life, Musk has repeatedly portrayed himself as a man of modest tastes.

“My primary home is literally a ~50k house in Boca Chica/Starbase that I rent from SpaceX,” he tweeted this June, referring to a Texas town near the Mexican border near SpaceX’s rocket-launch facility. “It’s kinda awesome though.”

What Musk hasn’t said, and what few people know, is that for roughly a year he has also been living in a waterfront estate in Austin owned by a rich friend nicknamed “Kenny,” people familiar with the matter say — a home so extravagant that it was the most expensive listed in the Texas capital when it was sold just a few years ago. Musk has also engaged a series of real-estate agents to show him Austin-area mansions for purchase — and toured some houses personally, some of the people say.

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The Austin home where Musk stays is owned by Ken Howery, a billionaire in his own right who has known Musk for decades. Musk’s stay is so secret that some friends of Howery said they were unaware of the arrangement.

The property includes nearly 8,000 square feet of interior space on a peninsula that juts into the Colorado River at the foot of Mount Bonnell in an exclusive Austin neighborhood, property records show. It boasts a waterfront pool, jacuzzi and private boat slip, and is protected by several sets of gates and a guardhouse as part of a development called “Watersedge.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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