One of Albert Einstein’s obscure theories just sold for $1.5m

25 Oct 2017

Statue of Albert Einstein in Washington DC. Image: Hang Dinh/Shutterstock

Albert Einstein’s musings have changed our understanding of science, but his theory of happiness is his real million-dollar idea.

Our understanding of astronomy was turned on its head in 2015 with the confirmation of gravitational waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago. In 1922, however, he wrote another theory – one that has unexpectedly had a major impact today (25 October), but in an auction house.

According to AFP (via, bidders at an auction in Jerusalem have been left stunned after a note written by Einstein given to a courier in Tokyo sold for $1.56m.

Written on the note was Einstein’s theory of happiness, which you’ll be interested to know is that “a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest”.

It was written by Einstein while he was on a lecture tour of Japan. Upon receiving a message delivered by a courier in his hotel room, he felt obliged to give the man something in return and decided that, at the peak of his fame, a handwritten note would suffice.

According to its seller, Einstein told the courier: “Maybe, if you’re lucky, those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip.”

Bidding for the note started at $2,000, but offers for it quickly rose as a bidding war developed between two interested parties.

The $1.5m sale shocked everyone involved, given that its pre-auction estimate was between $5,000 and $8,000. The buyer, believed to be European, decided to remain anonymous.

Speaking to AFP, the seller was more than thrilled with the outcome: “I am really happy that there are people out there who are still interested in science and history and timeless deliveries in a world which is developing so fast.”

Anything handwritten by Einstein is considered highly desirable by collectors, with other works written by the physicist selling recently for a handsome sum. In June, his letters discussing God, Israel and physics sold for $210,000.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic