A manuscript co-authored by Albert Einstein was auctioned for $13.17 million on Tuesday. It provides a rare glimpse into the thinking of Albert Einstein and his notes leading up to his general relativity theory.
According to Reuters, Christie’s assessed the manuscript’s value to be between 2 million and 3 million euros.
The 54-page manuscript has its half-filled with Einstein’s handwriting. It is one of only two overt working documents in which the scientist approached his famous hypothesis. It set the foundation for current cosmology and technology like GPS navigation.
Between 1913 and 1914, they were in the possession of Swiss physicist Michele Besso. He was Einstein’s close friend and academic collaborator who co-authored the study with him.
“That’s also what makes it particularly important given that working documents by Einstein before 1919 are extremely rare,” said Vincent Belloy. He is an expert at Christie’s who hosted the auction in Paris.
Even an absolute genius makes mistakes
“Einstein is someone who kept very few notes, so the mere fact that the manuscript survived and made its way to us already makes it absolutely extraordinary,” he added.
The manuscript mostly consists of interminable calculations in black ink on wrinkled, somewhat yellowed paper. It calls into question Einstein’s public image as an absolute genius since it indicates that even he made mistakes – at least occasionally.
“Einstein makes errors in this manuscript, and that I think makes it even greater in a way, because we see the persistence, the thought that was in the process of being built, that is being corrected and redirected,” Belloy said.
In May, a handwritten letter in which Einstein mentioned his famous E=mc2 equation was sold in the United States. It was part of his older theory of special relativity. It sold for around one million euros, more than three times its estimated value.
Einstein revolutionized modern physics. He first described gravitation as a geometric warping of space and time in his general theory of relativity. It was published in 1915 and is still relevant today.
Christie’s did not reveal the buyer’s identity who likewise bought Einstein and his notes on relativity theory.