Albert Einstein’s handwritten notes for the theory of relativity fetched a record 11.6 million euros (US$13 million) at an auction in Paris. The manuscript had been valued at around a quarter of the final sum. This is the highest ever paid for anything written by Albert Einstein.
The notes contain preparatory work for the physicist’s signature achievement, the speculation of common relativity, which he revealed in 1915.
Calling the notes “without a doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever to come to auction”, Christie’s which handled the sale on behalf of the Aguttes auction house had estimated prior to the auction that it would fetch two to three million euros.
Bids on Tuesday opened at 1.5 million euros and quickly went past the auctioneers’ estimate. After a few minutes two bidders were left, battling it out over the telephone in increments of 200,000 euros. There was no immediate information concerning the identity, or nationality, of the winner. Around 100 collectors and onlookers turned up for the sale, but all bids were made remotely.
The 54-page document sold Tuesday was handwritten in 1913 and 1914 in Zurich, Switzerland, by Einstein and his colleague and confidant, Swiss engineer Michele Besso. In 1913, Besso and Einstein “attacked one of the problems that had been troubling the scientific community for decades: the anomaly of the planet Mercury’s orbit. This initial manuscript contains “a certain number of unnoticed errors”. Once Einstein spotted them, he let the paper drop, and it was taken away by Besso.
Einstein made major contributions to quantum mechanics theory and won the Nobel physics prize in 1921.
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