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September 4, 2023

Rare 1929 Einstein Manuscript Offered by Christie’s Shanghai

Autographed manuscript is being presented in an exhibition at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai.

By Bea Isaacson

Christie’s Shanghai will be presenting a rare autograph manuscript by Albert Einstein in what will be the auction debut for the manuscript for Christie’s Asia, as well as representing the Classic Art category’s inaugural appearance within mainland China.

The manuscript, which will be presented within the 10th Shanghai Auction Anniversary: 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale, was first published in a supplement to The New York Times on 3 February 1929 and was a commission by the newspaper to Einstein to explain the development of the theories of special relativity and general relativity.

 “We are delighted to bring this important manuscript by the renowned scientist Albert Einstein to our Shanghai saleroom for the very first time,” commented Georgina Hilton, head of Classic Art, Christie’s Asia Pacific.

[See also: Christie’s Announces Wallace Chan Exhibition in London]

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein / ©Christie’s

“The manuscript provides a unique and fascinating glimpse into Einstein’s thought process and traces the evolution of his pioneering ideas. Given Einstein’s historical links with Shanghai, alongside the significant interest from Chinese collectors in scientific artifacts, our Shanghai saleroom is a fitting context in which to present this unique manuscript.”

The Einstein manuscript, which totals 14 pages and is written in German, includes two equations and a diagram illustrating the structure of the spacetime continuum, as well as two pages of scientific formulae.

The first of the sheets is written on paper taken from the back of Einstein’s personal notepaper, and eagle-eyed observers will notice the Nobel Prize-winning physicist’s name and Berlin address upon the blank reverse of the written pages.

[See also: The Most Expensive Watches Ever Sold at Auction]

Written in 1929, Einstein’s latest breakthrough within the realm of unified field theory was a monumental breakthrough that attracted significant worldwide attention to the man who was already the most famous scientist internationally.

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According to Christie’s, The New York Times was Einstein’s favorite newspaper, and the human touches of this manuscript, from the roughly scrubbed out mistakes to the right-leaning writing give fascinating insight into a man who, long after his death, remains very much within the public psyche; especially following a character inclusion in this summer’s Oppenheimer film.

“We look forward to exciting global collectors and science enthusiasts with this remarkable piece of history, inextricably connected with Einstein’s groundbreaking contributions,” Hilton concluded.

[See also: Sotheby’s Breaks Wine and Spirits Auctions Record]

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