Published: Thu, December 06, 2018

Einstein letter doubting God auctioned for $2.89m

Einstein letter doubting God auctioned for $2.89m

Einstein's "God letter", which he sent to religious philosopher Erik Gutkind, was expected to fetch between $1 million and $1.5 million at Christie's in NY.

A brief statement from the auction house said the letter sold for $2,892,500.

The one-and-a-half-page letter, written in 1954 in German and addressed to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, contains reflections on God, the Bible and Judaism.

Einstein writes in the letter than while he identified as Jewish and was proud to be such, he was disillusioned with Judaism, calling it a "primitive superstition". The buyer's identity has not been revealed.

"Collectors worldwide competed very strongly, in the room, over the phone and online, for this finely curated auction which comprised masterpieces and fresh-to-market property across a wide range of subjects", said Sven Becker, head of books and manuscripts at Christie's.

In the letter, Einstein says that for him, the word God is "nothing but the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of venerable but still primitive legends". "No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this".

Albert Einstein, during a lecture in Vienna in 1921.

A handwritten missive by Albert Einstein known as the "God letter" fetched nearly US$3 million at auction. The letter is a definitive statement in the debate about the relationship between religion and science. Gutkind, like Einstein, was a German-born Jew who had fled the Nazis to the United States. "And 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 wrote.

"As far as my experience goes, they are in fact no better than other human groups, even if they are protected from the worst excesses by a lack of power".

"I can not see anything "chosen" about them".

Arguably, though, the biggest shocker is the 1922 letter that netted $1.56 million at a 2017 auction in Jerusalem.

A 1939 letter in which Einstein warned then USA president Franklin D. Roosevelt about Germany's atom bomb preparations was auctioned for $2.1m in 2002.

It is not the first time Einstein's letters have been put up for auction.

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