Fact Check

Did Epstein Email Elon Musk About Kung Fu Practice with Maxwell?

We looked for the origins of a purported email exchange between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the latter purportedly attending "kung fu practice" with Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell.

Published Apr 28, 2022

Updated Apr 29, 2022
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend Batman Forever/R. McDonald Event on June 13, 1995 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan via Getty Images) (Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Image Via Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Claim:
A picture of a phone or computer screen shows an email exchange between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Tesla CEO Elon Musk from 2016, in which Epstein asks Musk if he was "able to meet up" with Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell "at kung fu practice on Saturday."

Fact Check


UPDATE: On April 28, 2022, a correction was made after PlainSite.org’s Aaron Greenspan reached out to our writer regarding errors. The Epstein web domain mentioned in the picture did, in fact, exist before 2016. An apology was extended to Greenspan for the mistake. As for the purported photograph of the email, we were unable to find evidence that left no doubt that it was either authentic or inauthentic. On April 29, the rating for this fact check was updated to "Unproven."

On April 19, 2022, a picture was posted on the @PlainSite Twitter account that appeared to show an email exchange from May 2016 between convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Epstein purportedly asked Musk, "Elon, were you able to meet up with Ghislaine at kung fu practice on Saturday?" Ghislaine referred to Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former associate who is now a convicted sex trafficker. Musk supposedly replied to Epstein with, "I did, thank you :)."

An email exchange between Jeffrey Epstein and Elon Musk about Ghislaine Maxwell and kung fu practice on Saturday was fake.

The picture of the exchange also spread to several threads on Reddit, including in r/TrueAnon, r/conspiracy, r/CumTownCumTown, r/EnoughMuskSpam, and r/Epstein. It was shared on Reddit around the same time that Musk was looking into buying Twitter.

The photograph of the email messages read as follows:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Elon Musk
Subject: Re: All good?
Date: May 30, 2016 at 12:00:26 AM PDT
To: Jeffrey Epstein (jeffrey@jeffreyepstein.org)

I did, thank you :)

On May 29, 2016, at 9:00 PM, Jeffrey Epstein (jeffrey@jeffreyepstein.org) wrote:

Elon,
Were you able to meet up with Ghislaine at kung fu practice on Saturday?

- Jeff

We initially published this story with a "False" rating after noting that a current web domain record for jeffreyepstein.org, the web domain supposedly used by Epstein in the May 2016 exchange, showed a creation date of June 2016. This led us to believe that the emails would not have been technically possible. However, this was an error on our part.

After we published, PlainSite.org's Aaron Greenspan reached out to us with evidence on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine that showed the domain had been archived by the website since at least 2010. (For full transparency, our original story with this error is also available on the Wayback Machine.)

Greenspan also shared with us details about his involvement in a lawsuit against Musk. He provided his own court document that referred to the purported email exchange between Epstein and Musk. It is discussed in a footnote on page 12.

According to another court document, the defendants responded to Greenspan, quoting directly from words used by him on lines 5 and 6 on page 8.

By email, Greenspan told us that, in his opinion, he believes this response from the defendants confirmed the authenticity of the picture of the email. He also shared the circumstances under which he first encountered the email image:

The specific image I posted was part of a larger image that was sent as a tip on Signal to Ken Klippenstein. I have spent hours trying to find the tweet where I originally encountered it, but so far I haven’t figured that out. Since I primarily use TweetDeck, which accesses tweets as JSON objects sent through XHR requests, it wasn’t saved in my browser history. The image is still posted on Twitter at https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EcHldy-U8AACu-E?format=png&name=large. I first saved it on November 19, 2021. I asked Ken about it and he didn’t even remember receiving it.

Ken Klippenstein is an investigative reporter for The Intercept. We reached out to Klippenstein to ask about the matter after Greenspan mentioned his name. In Twitter DMs, he told us that he did recall someone sending it to him, but he didn't remember if it was Greenspan asking about it or an earlier message from someone else. He also asked us to include this about the picture of the purported email: "Please note that I was skeptical of its authenticity which I was unable to verify."

In sum, we were unable to establish without a shadow of a doubt that the email exchange was either authentic or inauthentic. For this reason, we rated this claim as "Unproven." This story will be updated if further information comes to light.

Note #1: As additional corrections, in our original story, one of the tweets in the thread from @PlainSite was misinterpreted by our reporting. @PlainSite did not claim that Musk had deleted previous tweets where he mentioned Maxwell's name. The thread from @PlainSite referred to the disappearance of the original tweets that Musk replied to, not Musk's replies. Also, we corrected mentions of the PlainSite website to be PlainSite.org, not PlainSite.com.

Note #2: Also mentioned in @PlainSite's thread was a picture of Maxwell standing behind Musk at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2014. We previously reported on the facts behind this photograph. Additionally, news.com.au also published a story on the matter, going into some detail about other purported past interactions between Musk and Epstein, who, according to an autopsy, died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York.

Sources:

Atkins, Dorothy. “Tesla Investor Latest To Sue Elon Musk For Libel By Tweet - Law360.” Law360, 21 May 2020, https://www.law360.com/articles/1275973/tesla-investor-latest-to-sue-elon-musk-for-libel-by-tweet.

Bekiempis, Victoria. “Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Federal Sex Trafficking Crimes.” The Guardian, 8 July 2019. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/08/jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-charges-court.

California Northern District Court, Case No. 3:20-Cv-03426-JD, Greenspan v. Qazi et al., Document 147. PlainSite.org, 9 Dec. 2021.

California Northern District Court, Case No. 3:20-Cv-03426-JD, Greenspan v. Qazi et al., Document 155. PlainSite.org, 23 Dec. 2021.

Gramenz, Jack. “Elon Musk Defends Photo with Ghislaine Maxwell, Claiming He Was ‘Photobombed.’” News.Com.Au, 5 July 2020, https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/elon-musk-defends-photo-with-ghislaine-maxwell-claiming-he-was-photobombed/news-story/e36a769f65b00f4da5ea22763bdc3ae1.

Hymes, Clare. “Jury Finds Ghislaine Maxwell Guilty on Charges Tied to Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Trafficking Ring.” CBS News, 30 Dec. 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/ghislaine-maxwell-verdict-2021-12-29/.

Namecheap.com. https://www.namecheap.com/domains/whois/result?domain=jeffreyepstein.org.

Updates

On April 28, 2022, a correction was made after PlainSite.org’s Aaron Greenspan reached out to our writer regarding errors. The Epstein web domain mentioned in the picture did, in fact, exist before 2016. An apology was extended to Greenspan for the mistake. As for the purported photograph of the email, we were unable to find evidence that left no doubt that it was either authentic or inauthentic. On April 29, the rating for this fact check was updated to "Unproven."

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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