ELON Musk’s father Errol has revealed how he stumbled upon buying a stake in an emerald mine on his way to the UK to sell his private jet.
Billionaire tech tycoon Elon, 51, has questioned claims his father owned the mine in Zambia.
And last month, he offered one million dogecoins ($93,000 at the time) to anyone who could prove his existence.
But in an exclusive interview with The US Sun, Errol provided new details on exactly how he got involved in the emerald trade.
The retired South African electromechanical engineer shared how the story began when a major construction company he was advising wanted to sell an aircraft he owned.
Errol made a “ridiculous offer” of 100,000 South African rands (about $50,000 at the time), which was accepted.
He explained: “It was the mid-1980s when economic times were tough and they couldn’t find buyers.
“It was a beautiful twin engine Cessna Golden Eagle that was worth at least four times what I paid for it.”
The veteran pilot then used the plane to fly around his native South Africa while visiting construction projects he was working on.
When this work dried up, he chartered the plane until this source of income also fell by the wayside.
In 1986 he decided to sell the aircraft and found a buyer in the UK willing to pay £350,000 (about US$530,000 at the time).
“MARRIED TO MY CESSNA”
“Friends and colleagues found that hard to believe because they kept telling me I was married to my Cessna,” Errol said.
Errol took off from Johannesburg with two co-pilot friends and while flying through Zambia realized that it would be too expensive to refuel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as it was the Muslim holiday of Eid at the time.
Errol decided to explore the Lake Tanganyika region of Zambia and accidentally ended up at an airfield at the head of the lake.
There he met the Italian owners of the airfield who would become lifelong friends and his entry into the gemstone business.
Errol said: “It wasn’t much of an airfield, just a new runway and a couple of prefabricated buildings.
“When I told them I was on my way to the UK to sell my plane they offered to buy it and said do you want dollars or pounds?
“They had this big safe with lots and lots of cash in it.”
The Italians were bidding £80,000 (around $120,000 at the time) for the plane plus a share of an emerald mine they owned.
‘IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE’
“It sounds very glamorous, but it was more of a deposit in the middle of nowhere than a modern mine,” explained Errol.
Errol says that while he no longer owns the plane, it still flies and is currently worth millions of rand.
He told The US Sun last month how locals were busy digging up emeralds deep in the Zambian bush.
The workers took them to Errol for transport in an operation he described as “under the table.”
His business partners then paid locals about $2 a load, enough to feed an entire family for a month.
Errol shared how the money from the Emerald Mine helped him establish Elon in America.
He sent his son to Canada “with emerald money in his pocket” in 1989, and the billionaire enrolled the following year at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, one of the top business schools in the world.
Elon has previously claimed he came to Canada in 1989 with just CAD$2,500 and paid his way through college himself, ending up with $100,000 in college debt.
Errol explained why he believes Elon pushed back on the Emerald Mines story: “Elon’s main concern is not to come off as a ‘trust fund kid’ who’s gotten everything on his plate.
“That’s what his naysayers are pushing for. It is not true. Elon took risks and worked flat out to get where he is today.
“The Emeralds helped us through a very difficult time in South Africa when people were fleeing the country in droves, including his mother’s entire family, and earning potential was at an all-time low. That’s all.”
Earlier this year, Errol told The US Sun his son was a big fan of French Emperor Napoleon and believed the internet would have been invented by 1900 had the legendary general not been defeated.
Last September, The US Sun revealed how Errol killed three Clint Eastwood-style armed intruders in South Africa in 1998 while his then six-year-old daughter Ali was clinging to his leg.
Errol said Ali later told a trauma psychologist that she felt okay about the shooting “because my dad won.”
Also last year, The US Sun revealed Errol’s claim that he had fathered a second child with his stepdaughter Jana and that he had been asked to donate his sperm to impregnate high-class women in Colombia.
The US Sun also reported on Errol’s claim that Elon told him he was “really busy” after announcing his first child with Jana in 2018, and how he believes Elon would make a good president despite his naivety.
Elon did not respond to a request for comment on his father’s claims about the Emerald Mine.