Igor Kurganov Lands $5.7Billion Job with Elon Musk

February 17, 2022
Andrew Burnett

Highstakes poker pro Igor Kurganov hit the headlines this week when he was named as the man in charge of distributing $5.7billion of Elon Musk’s money – a Tesla stock dump reportedly designed to avoid taxes and benefit charity instead...

The Tesla and SpaceX founder is reputed to be the richest man in the world, with Forbes real-time billionaires list showing him with a net worth of $249.1 billion. That’s $60billion more than both Bernard Arnault’s family fortune and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ paltry $188billion.

A massive amount of money goes to Musk’s eponymous charitable foundation, but where that money goes and why, however, has always been a source of interest and intrigue.

Russian pro Igor Kurganov, with his longtime partner and fellow poker pro Liv Boeree, founded the REG project – Raising for Effective Giving – which focuses on “effective altruism”.

The REG approach, which Musk seems to have taken a $5.7billion shine to, is to target the most cost-effective charitable options and generally fund those that save most lives.

Until recently, Elon Musk’s “Musk Foundation” funded local school projects in South Texas close to his SpaceX spaceport, along with $multi-million carbon removal schemes and even COVID-19 research. Before that, DAFs (donor-advised funds) were a common destination for his $millions.

However, his recent decision to cash in more than 5million Tesla shares has come as a shock to many, particularly as the trust the shares were given to is unidentified, and its name not included in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing late last year.

Many assume the shares, worth $5.7billion, were an attempt to offset rows over an alleged $10billion IRS tax bill from last year while others connected it to Musk's claims he would sell Tesla stock if the United Nations could prove it would help end world hunger...

Kurganov’s connection becomes a lot clearer in light of this tweet, and Bloomberg reported this week that several recipients of grants from Musk’s money had the Russian philanthropist as their “primary point of contact”.

Whether it is connected to REG itself, or is a completely independent role, is unclear, but Kurganov may well prove to be a perfect fit for the Musk Foundation’s latest charity drive.

On the 2plus2 forum, the news was met with a mixed reaction, ranging from the clever “GTO philanthropy”, to the humorous take, “a poker player given 5.7 billion to manage? what could...nm.”

Another wrote: “As much as I dislike Musk, can’t blame Kurganov for taking this, it's a huge opportunity, and he might actually be able to do a lot of good things that way.”

The REG charity’s focus on poker players has raised almost $20million for charity since its inception in 2014, with close to 100 players giving 2% of their winnings to the foundation. That included $250,000 from Martin Jacobson’s $10million WSOP Main Event win that same year.

Whether Kurganov’s partner, English pro Liv Boeree, is also involved in the Elon Musk project is unknown.

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