Many have saved a memento or two from a past coupling. But Jennifer Gwynne (Penn ’96) has saved the whole kit and caboodle from her college romance with a very young, pre-Tesla, pre-Twitter drama Elon Musk at the University of Pennsylvania. And now she’s auctioning it all off for cash.
First of all, who is Gwynne, and why does she need the money—or the publicity? The 48-year-old lives with her husband and stepson in South Carolina and has some important financial goals, like paying for her stepson’s college tuition. She has acknowledged that now is a good time to capitalize on Musk’s recent string of headline-grabbing nonsense so she can command the highest possible price for her very personal collection.
Gwynne told the Independent that she had the inkling to auction her own items when she learned that an exam paper Musk had graded when he was a teaching assistant—the only sign of which is his initials—fetched $7,700 for a fellow Penn classmate.
“I ran down the stairs when I saw that article and said to my husband, ‘I have a note from Elon and it probably says something sexier than his initials,’” she explained.
Here’s what’s for sale, at RR Auctions:
- 18 photos of a noticeably younger and fresh-faced Musk—solo shots, with friends, and with Gwynne, of course.
- a signed birthday card reading, “Happy Birthday Jennifer (aka, Boo-Boo) Love, Elon. (currently at $10,001, ends September 14)
- a $1 bill signed by Musk (currently at $7,604, ends September 22)
- a 14k necklace with a small green emerald captured inside. The emerald is thought to be from Musk’s father’s mine in South Africa. Included with the necklace are two photos: One of Musk and Gwynne, and one of Gwynne pictured with Musk’s glamorous mother, Maye, while on a trip to New York City (currently at $5,999, ends September 14).
According to the Independent, a portion of the proceeds from the signed birthday card will be donated to CARE, an animal rescue group in South Carolina. The remaining funds will go towards Gwynne’s 13-year-old stepson’s college tuition.
How did Musk and Gwynne’s relationship begin? The pair dated in 1994 for about a year, first meeting when they were both resident advisors in the same dorm.
“He definitely started off shy and quiet, which was my type,” she told the outlet. “He just won me over by bringing me food one night to my room. And we were an item after that.”
Musk had visions of changing the world even then, she said. “He talked about electric cars and solar power even way back then, but he just had a kind innocent ‘this is how the world is going to change’ view about it.”
Ultimately, it was maintaining a long-distance relationship after he graduated and moved to California and she studied abroad that ended their romance. When she suggested they speak on the phone more often, Musk met that suggestion with, “‘I don’t like talking on the phone. It’s a waste of time,'” she says.
And that, as they say, was the beginning of the end. But does Gwynne have any belated parting words for her college love?
“Elon’s certainty when it comes to business and technology and large, grandiose plans does not translate well to relationships,” she said.
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