Albert Einstein’s Notes on Theory of Relativity Sold for Over $15 Million at Auction

A rare manuscript with early calculations made by Albert Einstein that led to his general theory of relativity was sold for over €13 million ($15 million) on Nov. 23 at a Paris auction.

The 54-page, handwritten document became the most expensive manuscript by the theoretical physicist and broke the record for an autographed scientific manuscript.

British auction house Christie’s did not disclose the name of the buyer.

The document was originally expected to fetch $2.4 million to $3.5 million as part of a judicial sale, which had to be handled by a special judicial commissioner.

“As one of only two surviving manuscripts documenting the genesis of general relativity, it provides a remarkable insight into Einstein’s work and a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the greatest scientist of the 20th century,” Christie’s said in a statement.

Einstein jointly wrote the document with Swiss-Italian engineer Michele Besso between June 1913 and early 1914. The theory was published in 1915.

According to Christie’s, Einstein wrote 26 pages of the document, Besso wrote 25 pages, and the remaining three pages contained entries from both collaborators.

“The manuscript isn’t bound, and there are many different types of loose paper, so you get the impression of a working document that’s full of energy, as if both men would grab the first page they could find to scribble their findings on,” Vincent Belloy, a books specialist at Christie’s, said.

Belloy further said that Besso kept the manuscript in “impeccable” condition until he died in 1995.


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