According to The Guardian, Albert Einstein’s handwritten notes on the theory of relativity fetched a record €11.6m at an auction in Paris on Tuesday. The manuscript had been valued at about a quarter of the final sum, which is by far the highest ever paid for anything written by the genius scientist.
It contains preparatory work for the physicist’s signature achievement, the theory of general relativity, which he published in 1915.
Calling the notes without a doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever to come to auction, Christie’s, who handled the sale on behalf of the Aguttes auction house, had estimated prior to the auction that it would fetch between €2m and €3m.
The 54-page document was handwritten in 1913 and 1914 in Zurich, Switzerland, by Einstein and his colleague and confidant Michele Besso, a Swiss engineer.
Christie’s said it was thanks to Besso that the manuscript was preserved for posterity. This was “almost like a miracle”, it said, since Einstein would have been unlikely to hold on to what he considered to be a simple working document. Today the paper offered “a fascinating plunge into the mind of the 20th century’s greatest scientist”, Christie’s said.