You will not believe how much this note Einstein wrote to a bellhop in 1922 just sold for.
Albert Einstein will always hold a spot in history for his incredible intelligence and numerous discoveries over the years. Because of this, it is no surprise that his signature and notes he has written are valuable, but even those at the auction house were surprised by how much two of his notes recently sold for.
The notes in question were written by Einstein at the Imperial Hotel while in Tokyo in 1922. This was a stop while on one of his lecture tours. The day in question, he had just discovered that he would receive the Nobel Prize.
According to the New York Times, a bellboy brought Einstein a message, but the physicist didn’t have any change on hand.
Instead of giving the bellboy money he didn’t have, Einstein penned him two notes.
The first note explained Einstein’s theory on happiness. Written in German, it translates to:
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
The second note read:
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Based on information from the auction house, the Israeli Winner’s Auction and Exhibition, who conducted the auction for the notes, Einstein was aware they were valuable. He reportedly told the bellboy that he should keep the notes, as they may become even more valuable than a normal tip.
One of the notes just sold for well over a million, likely exceeding even Einstein’s predictions of its value.
The note regarding Einstein’s theory of happiness fetched an incredible $1.56 million. The second, smaller note sold for $250,000, a still incredibly impressive amount, even if it does pale in comparison to the other.
In a phone interview with the New York Times, Meni Chadad, who is a spokesman of Winner’s, the grandson of the Japanese bellboy’s brother had approached the auction house several months previously. The auction house took the time to authenticate the documents before planning the auction.
The estimates were very far off from the figures these documents actually fetched. They had predicted them to get between $5,000 and $8,000, and bidding started at just $2,000. Even so, bidding entered six figures in no time.
Chadad pointed out:
“It was an all-time record for an auction of a document in Israel, and it was just wow, wow, wow. I think the value can be explained by the fact that the story behind the tip is so uplifting and inspiring, and because Einstein continues to be a global rock star long after his death.”
The fact that the notes were sold by an auction house in Israel is fitting, as Einstein was closely connected to the country.
Einstein was one of the founders of Hebrew University as well as a board member. He also left all his papers to the university. When it opened in 1925, Einstein’s wife, Elsa, donated one of the manuscripts from the physicist’s general theory of relativity to it, as well.
With its newly estimated value, it is clear that Einstein’s tip to the Japanese bellboy is among the largest tips in history, even if he hadn’t realized it at the time. According to Chadad regarding the family who auctioned the notes:
“They are very, very happy.”
For those who would like to see some of Einstein’s writing but aren’t millionaires, there are plenty of options.
In an article about the notes and the auction, NPR pointed out that you can find numerous papers written by Einstein at the archives of Hebrew University. There are also over 2,000 papers of Einstein’s digitized for perusal online.
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