Einstein's 'God Letter' Expected to Fetch 7 Figures at Auction

Elias Hubbard
December 5, 2018

Experts at Christie's auction house in NY had previously estimated the so-called "God letter" could sell for up to $1.5 million.

A brief statement from the auction house said the letter sold for $2,892,500.

"This remarkably candid, private letter was written a year before Einstein's death and remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views", a statement from Christie's says. It gave no details on the identity of the buyer.

"The word God is for me nothing but the expression of and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends".

Einstein goes on to write: "No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this".

Albert Einstein, during a lecture in Vienna in 1921.

Christie's books and manuscripts specialist Peter Klarnet said the letter is notable for its bluntness. Gutkind, like Einstein, was a German-born Jew who had fled the Nazis to the United States.

The letter to Gutkind previously sold for $404,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London in 2008. The letter had originally been estimated to sell for up to $1.5 million. Einstein said that while he "gladly" belonged to the Jewish people, he believed the religion "like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions".

Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson warned against considering this letter definitive of Einstein's beliefs, saying the theoretical physicist had written on the subject multiple times, and was not always consistent. "Otherwise I can not perceive anything "chosen" about them".

"While Einstein letters and manuscripts appear with some frequency at auction, those of great importance and significance do not", said Klarnet.

A 1939 letter in which Einstein warned then United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt about Germany's atom bomb preparations was auctioned for $2.1m in 2002.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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