A three-note letter written by Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds in the 20th-century science, and winner of the 1921 Physics Nobel Prize, was sold Tuesday at an auction in Jerusalem for $1.8 million, according to the auctioneers. In the autographed notes, Einstein explained his theory of how to live a fulfilling and happy life.

When he was 43 years old, just before learning he was nominated for the Physics Nobel Prize, Einstein traveled from Europe to Japan for a lecture series. Thanks to it, his Japanese publisher and hosts paid him a total of £2,000  as told in Walter Isaacson’s biography, “Einstein: His Life and Universe.”

Einstein theory of happiness, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Einstein auction
A young Einstein, circa the moment when he wrote the theory of happiness. Image credit: Lucien Chavan

All the Japanese people heard about Albert Einstein coming to Tokyo, and thousands tried to reach him whenever they had the opportunity.

At his room in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, tired and overwhelmed after the crowd of admirers asking for him, Einstein quietly sat and wrote what he was thinking and feeling at the moment. In a simple paper, he wrote his theory of happiness.

Not even researchers knew about the existence of these notes.

A lucky break that no one knew about

When an employee arrived Einstein’s room for a delivery, he decided to give the messenger with something that later would be worth millions. This was maybe because the worker “refused to accept a tip, in line with local practice, or Einstein had no small change available,” according to the AFP.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” says in German one of the three notes from the tip that Einstein gave to the messenger.

According to the Winner’s Auctions and Exhibitions website, this note was estimated to sell for between $5,000 and $8,000. But, out of the three, this note was sold for $1.56 million.

Gal Wiener, the chief executive of the auction house, said that the note began at $2,000, but only took 25 minutes to reach its final price.

Einstein theory of happiness, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Einstein auction
The note that sold for $1.56 million. Image credit: Gears of Biz

The other note, which Einstein wrote on a blank sheet of paper, says “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” At the beginning, the auction house estimated to sell it at $6,000. In the end, it sold for $240,000.

When the seller closed the sale, the room filled with applause.

“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 seller, who decided to remain anonymous, said after the sale.

The archivist who oversees the Einstein archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Roni Grosz, told the AFP that these just-recently-known notes help to understand the character and personality of Albert, who was one of the biggest geniuses in modern history.

When talking about his work, Grosz said that he was painting the portrait of Einstein: “the man, the scientist, his effect on the world.” For the archivist, the notes are a “stone in the mosaic.”

Albert Einstein was one of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s founders. In 1923, he gave the University’s first scientific speech. He gave his personal archives, as well as the rights to his works, to the University.

Source: The Washington Post