Elon Musk and Google co-founder Sergey Brin would have remained friends today had Nicole Shanahan not come in between. According to a new report Shanahan, 37, the estranged wife of Brin, had a brief affair with Musk, that ended the friendship between the two men and led to her divorce.
According to persons familiar with the situation, the 51-year-old Tesla CEO had a "brief romance" with Shanahan, last fall, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. However, Musk isn't the only person in Shanahan's life. A successful lawyer and entrepreneur, Shanahan has dated some of the richest men in the world over the years.
An Affair Not to Remember
Shanahan is a California-based lawyer and the founder of the Bia-Echo Foundation in addition to the legal tech company ClearAccessIP. She made headlines after the Wall Street Journal revealed that she had an affair with Musk while she was married to Brin. Following this, not only did the couple's marriage end but it also ended the years-long friendship between Musk and Brin.
Shanahan and Brin were both at Art Bassel, a multiday art event in Miami in December. The couple was already having marital issues as a result of the stress of Covid-19 and raising their 4-year-old daughter when Musk came into Shanahan's life.
According to the WSJ, Musk and Shanahan had a brief affair at the art festival that signaled the end of their marriage.
Musk too had just separated from his girlfriend Grimes around that time. A little over a month later, on December 15, Brin filed for divorce, citing their separation date.
Additionally, the report mentioned that he has told his assistants to withdraw all of his assets from Musk's several businesses.
According to the outlet, Musk and Brin were close friends for a long time. During the 2008 financial crisis, Brin even gave Musk $500,000 for Tesla. The Wall Street Journal also mentioned that Musk has reportedly admitted in the past that he "often crashed" at Brin's house in Silicon Valley.
However, Shanahan changed everything within the span of a few days.
Brin, who is estimated to have a net worth of $95 billion, used the excuse of "irreconcilable issues," but The Wall Street Journal claimed on Sunday that Musk's liaison with Shanahan was what finally brought their marriage to an end.
Shanahan is reportedly seeking $1 million in her divorce, which is more than what she agreed to in a prenuptial agreement but a far cry from the meager upbringing she experienced as a child when she relied on food stamps and attempted to support her two impoverished parents.
She is a California-based attorney and founder of legal tech company ClearAccessIP and the Bia-Echo Foundation. The foundation was launched in 2019 and Shanahan donated $100 million to causes including combating climate change and enhancing the criminal justice system.
According to the Stanford Law directory, Shanahan is also an academic fellow at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, where she is working on a project that integrates data science with the criminal justice system.
In an interview with Modern Luxury Magazine, Shanahan discussed her childhood hardships and how they inspired her to start her own business. "As a kid, I really had to figure out how the world works on my own,' she said, explaining how her father was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia when she was young, and her mother was a Chinese immigrant trying to make it in America.
"My dad was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia when I was 9, and my Chinese-born mom had only been in the US for two years when I was born," Shanahan had said ta that time.
"I had two unemployed parents for the majority of my childhood, so not only was there no money, there was almost no parental guidance," she said adding, "and as you can imagine with a mentally ill father, there was a lot of chaos and fear."
She began attending the University of Puget Sound in 2003, where, in accordance with her LinkedIn page, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and Mandarin Chinese.
Prior to beginning law school at Santa Clara University in 2013, she continued her education by studying Chinese law and international commerce in intellectual property at the National University of Singapore.
She secured a position at RPX Corporation as a patent specialist while she was in her early 20s, according to Modern Luxury, but she left after only 10 months after she was sexually assaulted. Shanahan claimed that after suffering from acute depression, she gave up practicing law and temporarily moved in with her aunt.
She eventually managed to get back on her feet and founded ClearAccessIP, which she later sold.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Shanahan was married to a finance professional prior to meeting Brin during a yoga retreat in 2015.
The couple was reportedly first spotted together during the island wedding of a CEO of a dating app. Shanahan and Brin welcomed a daughter in 2018 despite her alleged early difficulties becoming pregnant.
As part of the divorce settlement, Brin is now requesting joint custody of her. They are trying to keep the divorce details private out of concern that their daughter could be subject to "harassment" or "kidnapping."