Elon Musk as a tough-grading TA in 1995—two rare UPenn papers marked up and graded by the future Tesla CEO
Two pieces of coursework annotated and initialed by Elon Musk as a teaching assistant in an entrepreneurship class (MGMT 231) taught by Myles Bass at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1995. The first, classic UPenn written exam booklet with nine pages filled out, is graded and initialed by Musk on the front cover in red ink, "73, EM." Throughout, he checks off key points made in the exam, striking off points for incorrect or inaccurate answers. In one instance, where the student defines "Exit Strategy" as "a viable way to end operations if shit hits the fan," Musk writes, "graphic," and deducts two points.
The second piece, a five-page case study on the topic of Ruth Owades' mail-order specialty gardening tool idea, is graded and initialed on the first page in red ink by Musk, "8 1/2, EM." Musk simply checks off the critical points made throughout the paper, abstaining from comment. In fine condition. Accompanied by a full letters of authenticity from PSA/DNA for both signed items.
Accompanied by the original course syllabus, listing Musk as one of two teaching assistants, and a detailed letter of provenance from the consignor. In part: "Elon Musk is a pioneering titan of science and industry, universally known by his first or last name and idolized as 'Iron Man' or 'The Dogefather.' In 1995, he was just another student on the University of Pennsylvania campus. That spring he worked as a Teaching Assistant for Management 231, an entrepreneurship course I took at Wharton Business School. No one knew back then that Elon Musk would become the world's wealthiest and most iconic entrepreneur. Rather, it was Professor Myles Bass who was the legend, helping many aspiring students launch ventures from Steinberg-Dietrich Hall. My esteem for him led me to keep a few souvenirs from his course…The exam and case study both have Elon's unmistakable 'EM' signed in red pen on the front cover next to the average grades he gave me. He diligently marked up all 9 pages of the exam and 5-page paper, deducting points and checking off correct answers. He was a tough grader and didn't like my use of profanity, where I boldly wrote 'sh*t hits the fan' in a test answer. Intended as an inside joke for Professor Bass, this instead gave Elon pause. The young maverick ironically hit me with a 2-point deduction and 'graphic' comment for the offense."
Musk's autograph is rare in any form, and the early date and connection with his alma mater—he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in economics and physics in 1997—make this collection truly unique and remarkable.