A series of letters by Albert Einstein about physics, Israel and God – but mainly physics – sold for nearly $210,000 at a Jerusalem auction house on Tuesday, according to reports.
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The most highly valued of the eight was a February 1954 missive to American physicist David Bohm and fetched $84,000. The identity of the buyer is unknown.
The letters fetched a far greater price than the auction house predicted. It had initially expected them to sell for anything from $31,000 to $46,000.
In his letter to Bohm, Einstein wrote about God and how if he had created the world, “His primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.”
The most high-profile buyer was Israeli magician-mentalist Uri Geller. He was the successful bidder for a 1954 letter in which Einstein discusses the chances of Bohm moving to Israel.
“Israel is intellectually active and interesting but has very narrow possibilities,” the Nobel laureate wrote. “And to go there with the intention to leave on the first occasion would be regrettable,” Einstein advised the U.S. physicist.
Winners auction house sold the letters, all written by Einstein between 1951 and 1954.
Another letter to Bohm sold for just over $50,000. In that one, Einstein wrote about the link Bohm had made between quantum theory and “relativistic field theory.”
The letters came from the estate of Bohm’s late widow, Winners said.
Tuesday’s sale is the latest in a series of sales of letters by the Nobel laureate, who died in April 1955.
Earlier this year, a 1953 letter by Einstein to an Iowa schoolteacher, complete with hand drawings, sold for $53,500 at auction in Los Angeles. And in May 2008, an Einstein letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind fetched $404,000 at auction in London, which was 25 times the presale estimate.
In that letter, Einstein described the Bible as “pretty childish,” and pooh-poohed the idea that the Jews were the Chosen People.