A Rare Letter from Einstein Is for Sale in Boston

The message to his son could fetch $100,000.

einstein 1

Photo courtesy of RR Auction

Even toddlers know who Albert Einstein is. There was something about his outsider genius, and the disruptive influence of his ideas, that made the wild-haired intellectual an enduring pop culture icon.

One side effect of all that, though, is people insist on molding him into something he wasn’t. What was that thing he was always saying about the definition of insanity, that it’s when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? He never said that. He also wasn’t a bad student. Made-up things about famous historical figures are frustratingly common, and your Facebook friends aren’t helping.

But now, thanks to a Boston auctioneer, you can take home a piece of verifiably true insight into the man.

A rare 1929 letter from Einstein to his son, sent soon after he made what he believed to be a major breakthrough in Unified Field Theory, is now up for sale at RR Auction.

Here’s an excerpt, translated from German:

I am now very happy because I finally solved to my total satisfaction, after immensely intensive work, my gravitation-electricity problem. This, in a way, concludes my life’s work—the remainder simply is bonus material. Remarkably, how through all this strenuous work I made it in good shape and am feeling quite well. I do, however, practically live the life of a recluse and follow a frugal way of live. When we see each other again, I shall try to explain to you and describe this lifestyle a bit. In no way do I expect your approval and perhaps desire to join this guild. I could not care less.

In fact he hadn’t cracked the problem he set out to. But the letter offers a rare look at the man’s personal life and his state of mind at an important inflection point in his career, says Robert Livingston, RR Auction’s executive vice president.

“Einstein does not usually talk about his life’s work— that’s what make’s the letter spectacular,” Livingston says in a news release. He adds: “The letter reveals Einstein as both an accomplished physicist and caring father, this is a remarkable letter with simply extraordinary content,” said Livingston.

Bidding for the letter, which has an estimated value of more than $100,000, was at about $20,000 on Tuesday.

It’s been on sale since Sept. 27, and the bidding is set to continue until Wednesday, October 12.

The collection up for sale also includes other letters from the man and a signed photo.