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Auction Science Religion

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Einstein letter doubting God sells for $2.89 million

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Portrait of Albert Einstein from 1949 Photograph by Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J / via Wikipedia

A handwritten letter from Albert Einstein in which the physicist questions the existence of God was sold Tuesday in New York City for $2.89 million at Christie’s auction house.


This is a record for a letter from the scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. The price is significantly higher than the estimated range of $1 to $1.5 million.

In March 2002, a letter sent by Einstein in 1939 to Franklin D. Roosevelt, then President of the United States, warning him of German atomic projects, was acquired for $2.1 million.

In the letter sold on Tuesday, dated 1954 and written in German to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, Einstein said he did not believe in God. The greatest physicist of the 20th century, a Jewish man who had fled Germany after Hitler’s advent, refutes any religious belief.

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses. And the Bible, a collection of venerable but nevertheless quite primitive legends,” writes Einstein a year before his death in April 1955.

“No interpretation, however subtle, will change anything (for me),” he adds in this one-and-a-half page letter to the German philosopher.

The last sale of this letter was in 2008, when it was sold to a private collector for $404,000, Christie’s said.

In his letter, the author of the theory of relativity, who died at the age of 76, did not spare Judaism.

“For me, the Jewish religion is, like all other religions, the incarnation of a primitive superstition,” he wrote. “And the Jewish people to whom I proudly belong, and to whose mentality I feel deeply rooted, do not have a form of dignity different from that of other peoples.

“In my experience, they are no better than other human groups, even if they are protected from the worst excesses by their lack of power. Otherwise I don’t perceive anything elected in them.”