Einstein’s manuscript on the theory of relativity will be auctioned

One of the handwritten drafts of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, estimated at between two million and three million euros (from R$12 to R$18 million), will be auctioned, announced the house Christie’s on Wednesday (1).

“It is, without a doubt, the most appreciated Einstein manuscript ever auctioned,” Christie’s said in a statement.

The auction will take place on November 23rd.

The document is a 54-page manuscript written in 1913 and 1914 in Zurich (Switzerland) by the famous German physicist and his collaborator and confidant Michele Besso.

It is thanks to this Swiss engineer, he explained to Christie’s, that “the manuscript came, almost miraculously, to us: Einstein probably wouldn’t have bothered to keep what might appear to be a working document.”

After his theory of special relativity, which led him to prove in 1905 the formula “E=mc²”, Einstein began work, in 1912, on a theory of general relativity.

In early 1913, “the two friends and colleagues began working on one of the problems the scientific community had been facing for decades: the anomaly in the orbit of the planet Mercury,” recalled Christie’s. The two scientists solved this riddle.

But they didn’t do that in the calculations in this manuscript, which include “several errors that went unnoticed.” When Einstein detected them, he stopped worrying about the manuscript, which remained in the hands of Michele Besso.

“Einstein’s scientific manuscript documents from this period, and more generally, from before 1919, are extremely rare,” noted Christie’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Director Adrien Legendre, quoted in the statement.

The other known document from this crucial period in the physicist’s research, called the “Zurich notebook” (late 1912, early 1913) is found in the Einstein archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.