A note handwritten by Albert Einstein in the 1920s, detailing the German-born physicist’s simple theory for a happy life, sold in a Jerusalem auction to an anonymous European buyer on Tuesday for $1.56 million.
The auction began at $2,000 and a series of bids pushed the price up rapidly until two final bidders competed by phone to own the historic piece. Thunderous applause erupted at Jerusalem-based Winner’s Auctions when the final bid was closed.
“It was an all-time record for an auction of a document in Israel,” Winner’s spokesman Meni Chadad told AFP.
The auction house originally estimated that the note would sell for between $5,000 and $8,000. The note was written during Einstein’s 1922 visit to Japan after he was informed that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize for physics. It was penned on Imperial Hotel Tokyo stationery and says in German, “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”
The note is one of two that were gifted to a Japanese courier at the hotel in lieu of a cash tip. According to the seller, Einstein told the courier at the time, “Maybe if you’re lucky those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip.”
The second note written by Einstein sold for $240,000 and reads, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”