Albert Einstein letter grappling with religion sells for £2.3M at auction

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Albert Einstein letter grappling with religion sells for £2.3M at auction

Famous scientist's letter of just one-and-a-half-pages stunned auctioneers in New York, with bidders expecting it to sell for one million

Physicist Albert Einstein
Physicist Albert Einstein

A small handwritten letter from Albert Einstein on religion, Judaism and being Jewish has sold at auction for an incredible £2.3m ($2.9 million).

The letter, just one and a half pages long, was written in his later years to a German philosopher, and stunned auctioneers in New York this week, who had hoped it would sell for around £1 million.

In it, the legendary physicist says “the word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses… The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this.”

He said Judaism was “like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition,” adding: “The Jewish people, to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples”.

He continued: “As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

The private letter was written to Eric Gutkind in 1954, when Einstein was 74 years of age, and auctioneers said it was the perfect example of the Jewish genius’s thinking on faith and religion.

“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,” said Christie’s auction house in a statement.

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