Einstein manuscript record auction: $ 13 million for a draft of his theory of general relativity

The 54-page working manuscript co-authored by Albert Einstein and Michele Besso (Photo: REUTERS / Antony Paone) (ANTONY PAONE /)

One of the handwritten drafts of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity It was auctioned on Tuesday for 11.6 million euros (about 13 million dollars) in Paris, the agency found AFP.

They had previously been paid 2.8 million dollars in 2018 for a handwritten letter from the eminent scientist, in which he theorized about God, and in 2017 they were paid 1.56 million dollars for a letter speculating about happiness.

The document auctioned on Tuesday was valued at between 2 and 3 million euros. Contrary to the two preceding letters, this is a valuable scientific work.

einstein manuscript auctioned
The manuscript offers a rare insight into the thought of the legendary physicist (Photo: AFP)

“It is, without a doubt, the most precious Einstein manuscript ever put up for auction”, the auction house Christie’s had previously pointed out in a statement. The document is a 54-page manuscript drawn up in 1913 and 1914, in Zurich, Switzerland, by the famous German physicist and his collaborator and confidant, Michele Besso.

It is thanks to this Swiss engineer, Christie’s explained, that “the manuscript has almost miraculously reached us: Einstein probably wouldn’t have bothered to keep what might seem like a working document.”.

After his theory of special relativity, which led him to demonstrate the formula “E = mc²” in 1905, Einstein began to work, in 1912, in a theory of general relativity.

einstein manuscript auctioned
The 54 pages of paper, half of them with Einstein’s handwriting, are one of only two known working papers in which the thinker addresses his famous theory that laid the foundations for modern cosmology and technologies such as navigation by GPS (Photo: AFP)

This theory of gravitation, finally published in November 1915, revolutionized the understanding of the universe. Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76 and became a symbol of scientific genius, as well as a pop figure, with the famous 1951 photo of him sticking out his tongue.

At the beginning of 1913, both Einstein and Besso “began to work on one of the problems that the scientific community has been encountering for decades: the anomaly of the orbit of the planet MercuryChristie’s recalled. Both scientists solved that riddle.

But they did not do so in the calculations for that manuscript, which include “various errors that went unnoticed.” When Einstein spotted them, he stopped worrying about the manuscript, which was left in the hands of Michele Besso.

An Albert Einstein manuscript at Christie's auction house in Paris (Photo: REUTERS / Antony Paone)
An Albert Einstein manuscript at Christie’s auction house in Paris (Photo: REUTERS / Antony Paone) (ANTONY PAONE /)

“Einstein’s scientific handwritten documents from that period, and more generally, from before 1919, are extremely rare,” highlighted the auction house.

“As one of only two surviving working manuscripts documenting the genesis of the theory of general relativity, it is an extraordinary record of Einstein’s work and provides a fascinating insight into the mind of the greatest scientist of the 20th century.”added.

The other known document from that crucial period in physicist research, called “Zurich notebook” (late 1912, early 1913) is in the Einstein Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

(With information from AFP)

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