Albert Einstein's note on the secret for a happy life sells for $1.5m
Albert Einstein predicted that a note he wrote 95 years ago for a courier would be more valuable than a regular tip - and he was right.
The handwritten message that the German-born physicist gave to the messenger in Tokyo briefly describing his theory on happy living sold at auction in Jerusalem on Tuesday for $1.56 million (€1.33m), the auction house said.
The winning bid for the note far exceeded the pre-auction estimate of between $5,000 (€4,251) and $8,000 (€6,802), according to the website of Winner's auction house.
"It was an all-time record for an auction of a document in Israel," Winner's spokesman Meni Chadad told AFP.
The buyer was a European who wished to remain anonymous, he said.
Bidding, in person, online and by phone, started at $2,000 (€1,700). A flurry of offers pushed the price rapidly up for about 20 minutes until the final two potential buyers bid against each other by phone.
Applause broke out in the room when the sale was announced.
"I am really happy that there are people out there who are still interested in science and history and timeless deliveries in a world which is developing so fast," the unidentified seller told AFP after the sale.
A second Einstein note written at the same time that simply reads "where there's a will, there's a way" sold for $240,000, Winner's said.
Einstein dedicated his life to science, but suggested in the notes that fulfilling a long-term ambition doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness.
The theoretical physicist, who is celebrated for his groundbreaking theory of relativity, was on a lecture tour in Japan in 1922 when the encounter took place.
He was staying at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo but did not have any change available to tip the courier.
Instead, the Nobel Prize winner handed the man two handwritten notes, telling him: “Maybe if you're lucky those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip.”
Einstein wrote on one of the notes: “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”
“Where there's a will, there's a way,” he wrote on another sheet.
The notes, which were previously unknown to researchers, were being sold by an anonymous Hamburg resident.
Roni Grosz, an Einstein archivist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said: “What we're doing here is painting the portrait of Einstein - the man, the scientist, his effect on the world - through his writings.
“This is a stone in the mosaic.”