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From a picture to a manuscript, the world is paying big bucks for Einstein memorabilia

The picture went under the hammer at the Nate D Sanders auction house in Los Angeles for $125,000 in July this year.
The picture went under the hammer at the Nate D Sanders auction house in Los Angeles for $125,000 in July this year.
Albert Einstein is probably one of the most recognised scientists even today. Historians say that Einstein’s popularity can be credited to a combination of his stellar work, outspoken views on religion and his quirky personality. This is why collectors around the world continue to pay top dollar for Einstein memorabilia. Last month a letter he wrote to his wife and son was sold for $ 21,000, while another one he wrote to a science teacher, answering his queries went for $53,503 in April.

Here are some of the other items belonging to the scientist that fetched big bucks:


Signed picture

An iconic picture of Einstein playfully sticking his tongue out on his 72nd birthday party at Princeton University by photographer Arthur Sasse almost never made it to public domain. The photographer’s bosses were hesitant to publish the picture, but when they did, Einstein himself ordered multiple prints to give to his friends. One such picture went under the hammer at the Nate D Sanders auction house in Los Angeles for $125,000 in July this year to an unnamed buyer. An uncropped version, the 7x10 inch photo taken in 1951, shows the physicist with Frank Aydelotte, an English professor, and his wife Marie Jeanette.

Letter to Roosevelt about an atomic bomb

An unsent copy of Einstein’s letter to US President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1939 persuading him to fund research to build an atomic bomb was acquired by publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes in 1986 for $2,20,000. It was thereafter resold at a Christie’s auction in 2002 for $20,96,000.

From a picture to a manuscript, the world is paying big bucks for Einstein memorabilia
In this Dec. 28, 1934 file photo, Albert Einstein uses a blackboard as he speaks at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Image: AP)

Theory of Relativity manuscript version 2.0

After throwing away the original notes for the Theory of Relativity, Einstein re-wrote it in 1943 to help war bond sales. The manuscript was offered to the American government to help towards World War II efforts. Kansas City Life Insurance Company President Walter Bixby paid $6.5 million for the manuscript and then donated it to the US Library of Congress . It reportedly still lies there.

Young genius manuscript

He may have been only 16 years old, but Einstein’s first scientific essay in 1895, On the investigation of the state of ether in a magnetic field, which he sent to his uncle, gives a glimpse into his early genius. Little wonder then that the manuscript was auctioned at Christie’s in 2006 for $6,76,992.

Letter with his religious views

Einstein’s letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind in 1954, where he talks about his views on religion, was a much sought after memorabilia. In the letter, he said, “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.” He also called Judaism, “an incarnation of the most childish superstitions”. The letter was acquired by a private collector for $4,04,000.
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