The Slatest

The Best Photo We Didn’t Use This Week: Which Billionaire Is Under This Halloween Mask?

Three people wearing costumes sitting next to each other: one is dressed like an ancient Egyptian deity, one is dressed in all white with a large puffy white hat, and one is dressed like Alice in Wonderland.
He went all out. Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images

Slate’s homepage editors spend a lot of time looking for editorial photos to put on our site. Those searches sometimes yield unexpected results: random, perplexing, and mesmerizing photos that don’t belong on the homepage, but that are too good not to share. Every week, we’ll share the weirdest photo from the wires.

What search term did you use to find this in Getty?
“elon musk”

What were you hoping to find?
A photo of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk ahead of his gig hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8. The show’s decision to spotlight the trollish billionaire, one of the richest people in the world, has drawn criticism and lots of Twitter dunking, but it has delighted crypto enthusiasts.

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What did you find instead?
A mismatched, otherworldly trio. The masked man is decked out in an elaborate costume possibly depicting Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife. The woman is Alice in Wonderland, complete with a white rabbit prop. As for the bashful man between them—is he a jellyfish? a mushroom? There’s room for interpretation.

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Neither Alice nor the jellyfish/mushroom man looks thrilled to be photographed. We can’t see the masked man’s face, but his body language is somewhat stiff and awkward. Did the photographer catch them at an inopportune time? Why are they all so serious? In spite of the costumes, they don’t really look like they’re embracing the Halloween spirit.

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What’s the actual backstory here?
This October 2015 photo was taken at the annual Halloween party hosted by Playboy and Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. The masked man on the left is Elon Musk. The woman on the right is actress Talulah Riley, Musk’s then-wife. (Riley and Musk had a tumultuous relationship: They first married in 2010, got divorced in 2012, and married again in 2013. Musk filed for divorce in 2014 but withdrew the action, and the couple finally divorced a second time in 2016.) The man in the middle is Sean “A Billion Dollars” Parker, Napster co-founder and Facebook’s first president.

The party featured a haunted house, a 45-foot Ferris wheel, and, reportedly, Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Why is this the weird photo of the week?
It’s more intriguing than the SNL “skit ideas” Musk is brainstorming on Twitter, such as “Irony Man” and “Baby Shark Tank.”

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