Albert and Elsa Einstein at the University of Commerce, Tokyo, with Japanese faculty. Two notes he wrote on that trip are up for auction. Albert and Elsa Einstein at the University of Commerce, Tokyo, with Japanese faculty. Two notes he wrote on that trip are up for auction. Albert and Elsa Einstein at the University of Commerce, Tokyo, with Japanese faculty. Two notes he wrote on that trip are up for auction. (Photo: Albert Einstein Archives/HUJ)

Autographed Einstein notes given to Japanese bellhop up for auction

The handwritten scrawls were reportedly given by the absent-minded professor in lieu of a tip.

Albert Einstein was on a trip to Japan to deliver some lectures around the same time he'd won the Nobel Prize. He arrived in Asia to throngs of people who wanted to see him.

Feeling slightly uncomfortable about all the attention, he arrived at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and started writing down his thoughts. When a hotel attendant delivered something to his room, Einstein, realizing he didn't have any money for a tip, gave the man two of his writings. Perhaps someday, he said, the letters would accumulate some value that far exceeds a standard gratuity.

Those two notes are now up for auction, courtesy of Winner's Auction & Exhibitions in Israel. The auction will take place on Oct. 24, but bids are already being accepted online.

Two notes that Einstein scribbled while at a Japanese hotel. Two notes that Einstein scribbled while at a Japanese hotel. (Photo: Winner's Auctions)

Also on the auction block is a letter from Einstein stating that he'd be happy to help promote an exhibition from the Jerusalem Art Gallery as well as a long letter in which the physicist expresses his amazement at the achievements of Hebrew University. "During the thirty years of its existence," Einstein wrote in 1954, "it has compiled a magnificent record of achievement in every field of knowledge."

Einstein was a co-founder of the Jerusalem institution and served on the school's first Board of Governors. He bequeathed his papers to Hebrew University, which is home to the official Albert Einstein archives. Some odd things can be found there, including a letter from Einstein saying he considered becoming a plumber as well as correspondence about the time Einstein sent Upton Sinclair a rather large cake.

A plaster statue depicting Albert Einstein is displayed at The Albert Einstein Archives department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on February 11, 2016. A plaster statue depicting Albert Einstein is displayed at The Albert Einstein Archives department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on February 11, 2016. (Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Six decades after his death, Einstein memorabilia continues to flood the marketplace. In 2015, a batch of Einstein's letters fetched $420,000 at auction. Back in October, we reported on a letter that Einstein wrote to his son that was auctioned for around $100,000. A letter written by Einstein about his theory of relativity was auctioned off earlier this year. An autographed copy of the iconic photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out sold for $125,000 at auction. Perhaps the renewed interest in Einstein objects is, in part, due to a National Geographic TV series about the beloved genius. An auction this summer, in which Michael Jackson's best friend purchased a letter written by Einstein, just happened to coincide with the show's finale.

If these historic writings are out of your budget, we do have a possible workaround. A German designer has created a font that looks just like Einstein's handwriting. Using that, you could practically recreate these letters on your own.

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