Photo Credit: Courtesy Winner's Auctions and Exhibitions
A 1922 scribble by Albert Einstein sold for $1,560,000

In October 1922, Albert Einstein took a trip to Japan to deliver a series of lectures. While travelling from Europe to Japan he was informed by telegram that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize for 1921. Einstein decided to continue his journey according to his original plan, and ended up being absent from the ceremony in Stockholm the following December.

The news of the Nobel Prize winner’s arrival in Japan spread quickly, and when he arrived he found himself being welcomed by thousands of people flocking to see him.


The great physicist was impressed but also a little embarrassed by the publicity he received and while he was staying at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo he tried to record his thoughts and feelings on paper. When a bellboy came to his door, Einstein did not have tip money on him, so, following in the footsteps of Pablo Picasso, he scribbled two notes on the hotel’s stationary and told the messenger to hold on to them, since their future value would far exceed the tip.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” was Einstein’s flippant advice to the bellboy, who probably went home without sipping his usual Sake at the hotel bar.

On Tuesday, one of the two notes fetched $1,560,000 at a Winner’s Auctions and Exhibitions auction in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem.

Amazingly, according to the auctions firm’s website, the asking price for the scribbled note was a mere $2,000, with the estimated price listed at between $5,000 and $8,000.

In the same auction, a letter from Albert Einstein written in 1954, in Princeton, to Architect Alexander Brenner, with an invitation to take part in a conference for the benefit of the Hebrew University, sold by the same house on Tuesday for $33,600 (opening price $7,000).

Albert Einstein letter praising Hebrew U. / Courtesy Winner’s Auctions and Exhibitions

In the letter, Professor Einstein expresses great amazement at the Hebrew University’s achievements, reveals the extent of the hopes he places in it for Israeli progress, and mentions it having a special place in his heart for many years.

Einstein sees the Hebrew University’s success as having supreme significance for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. He mentions that the university had been close to his heart for many years, as the only institution of higher learning in the State of Israel, which burdens it with a great responsibility to future generations, to lead the Jewish State into future economic and political independence.

Einstein was proud of the Hebrew University’s accomplishments throughout the thirty years of its existence, in every field of knowledge. This despite being “homeless” and operating out of crowded and grossly inadequate facilities since the fall of the Mount Scopus campus in the War of independence.

Einstein writes that it is unthinkable that scholars of such high standards should be forced to continue teaching and studying in such unsuitable surroundings, and the university has therefore begun construction of a new quarters, which includes new laboratories and new classrooms. The conference, which was meant to take place on 19.09, gathered together selected individual Jews in order to look for ways to achieve American collaboration in the rebirth of the Hebrew University, and to meet with the University’s deputy chairman, the prominent scientist Professor Michael Even-Ari.

A letter in which Professor Einstein Expressed his willingness to assist the chairman of the Jerusalem Art Gallery, written in Princeton, in 1947, fetched $9,600. Einstein writes: “I shall be glad to serve as a member of the sponsor’s committee for your forthcoming exhibition in New York.” Asking price was $2,000.