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Albert Einstein’s sketches on the general theory of relativity fetch $ 18 million at auction in Paris




A co-authored manuscript by Albert Einstein, which provides a rare insight into the thinking of the legendary physicist leading to his general theory of relativity, has sold at auction for 11.7 million euros ($ 18.2 million).

Christie’s auction house estimates the value of the manuscript at between two and three million euros.

The 54 pages of the paper, half-filled with Einstein’s manuscript, constituted one of only two working papers in which he approached his famous theory.

His theory of relativity laid the foundations for modern cosmology and technologies such as GPS navigation.

The documents were kept by Swiss physicist Michele Besso, a close friend and academic partner of Einstein, who co-authored the work between 1913 and 1914.

“This is also what makes it particularly important given that working papers from Einstein before 1919 are extremely rare,” said auction expert Vincent Belloy.

Documents inserted in a glass box in a museum in the foreground, poster of Einstein's path to relativity in the background
Einstein’s theory of relativity laid the foundations for modern cosmology and technology.(Reuters: Antony Paone)

With endless black ink calculations on wrinkled, lightly yellowed paper, the manuscript challenged Einstein’s popular image as an absolute genius because it showed he too was making mistakes.

“Einstein makes mistakes in this manuscript, and I think that makes it even bigger in a way, because we see the persistence, the thought that was in the construction process, that is being corrected and redirected,” Belloy said.

In May, a handwritten letter from Einstein, in which he mentioned his famous equation E = mc, sold for approximately one million euros in the United States, more than three times the estimated price.

With his general theory of relativity of 1915, Einstein revolutionized modern physics when he first described gravity as a geometric distortion of space and time, a discovery that remains valid.

The auction house did not disclose the name of the buyer.





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