Report: Elon Musk Paid for This 2013 Burning Man Temple

The Musk Foundation has given more than $54 million over the past 15 years.

Elon Musk has a net worth of about $20.5 billion and when he’s not making money and cutting salaries, he’s giving a chunk of that cash away through his foundation the Musk Foundation.

A deep-dive by *The Guardian this week into the Musk Foundation turned up exactly where the money funneled through the foundation goes to, and among the millions he’s spread out, a smaller donation sticks out: A sum of $10,000 that funded Burning Man art.

The donation was given to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and that the money went towards the creation of the Temple of Whollyness a giant structure that was erected for the festival in 2013. (The temple can be seen in the video above.)

MAPS confirmed with Inverse that the donation from the Musk Foundation was not for MAPS’ research or education projects, and went entirely to the creation of the art. It was a fiscal sponsorship donation that MAPS passed directly to the Temple of Whollyness, which was an independent project from MAPS.

Founded in 1986, MAPS is a nonprofit research and educational organization which sponsors research focused on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. MAPS is currently undertaking a plan to make MDMA into a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medicine by 2021 and is well on its way: In 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA for the treatment of PTSD, and the Phase 3 trial is currently underway.

Burning Man
Inside the Temple of Whollyness.

MAPS also has a long-running relationship to Burning Man, where it hosts talks, and provides support and psychedelic peer counseling services through its offshoot organization, the Zendo Project. In 2017, the Zendo Project served over 456 Burning Man attendees who were having an overwhelming experience with drugs.

Musk, meanwhile, is a noted fan of the annual temporary city experiment so it’s not a huge surprise that he would donate to the creation of Burning Man art. The Temple of Whollyness itself was 87 by 87 feet at its base and 64 feet in height. The elaborate art structure was made of geometric interlocking wood pieces and was burned at the end of Burning Man, which is the tradition.

Musk has reportedly said that Burning Man and Silicon Valley are essentially the same and that “if you haven’t been, you just don’t get it.”

Besides Burning Man, Musk has donated to artificial intelligence research, getting rid of Los Angeles traffic, and a fresh food foundation called Big Green.