Albert Einstein’s working manuscript hits auction records –

A manuscript by the famous physicist Albert Einstein, in which he prepared his theory of general relativity, was auctioned for a record sum of 11.6 million euros (with fees) on Tuesday in Paris.

Previous records for an Einstein manuscript were 2.4 million euros in 2018 for a letter on God, and 1.39 million euros in 2017 in Jerusalem for a letter on the secret of happiness.

The document sold on Tuesday was estimated between 2 and 3 million euros. Unlike those which had been the subject of the two previous records, it is a scientific working document, which makes it rare.

It is a 54-page autograph manuscript written in 1913 and 1914, in Zurich, by the German-born physicist and his collaborator and confidant, Michele Besso.

“Extremely rare” documents

“Einstein’s scientific autograph documents from this period, and more generally from before 1919, are extremely rare,” Christie’s pointed out before the auction, where the auction for the Aguttes company took place.

These started at 1.5 million and flew away in a few minutes, ending with a battle between two buyers over the phone in increments of 200,000 euros.

The nationality of the purchaser was not known in the early evening. A hundred curious and collectors were present in the room, none of them being a bidder.

Genie and pop figure

According to Christie’s, it is thanks to Besso that “the manuscript has, almost miraculously, come down to us: Einstein probably would not have bothered to keep what appeared to him to be a working document”.

After his special theory of relativity, which made him demonstrate in 1905 the famous formula E = mc2, Einstein began to work on a theory of general relativity.

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This theory of gravity, finally published in November 1915, revolutionized our understanding of the Universe. Died in 1955 at the age of 76, Einstein has become a symbol of scientific genius as much as a pop figure, with the famous 1951 photo where he sticks his tongue out.

Another document kept in Zurich

It is not in the calculations lying on this manuscript, which count “a certain number of errors which have gone unnoticed”. When Einstein spotted them, he no longer cared about this manuscript, taken away by Besso.

“Being one of only two working manuscripts documenting the genesis of the theory of general relativity to have survived, it is an extraordinary testimony to Einstein’s work and allows us a fascinating dive into the mind of the greatest scientist. of the twentieth century “, according to Christie’s.

The other document known from this crucial period in the physicist’s research, known as the “Zurich notebook” (late 1912, early 1913), is in fact kept in the Einstein archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.