A HANDWRITTEN letter by Albert Einstein and a first edition of Harry Potter have sold for record-breaking prices at auction in New York.
The Nobel Prize-winning physicist’s ‘God Letter’ fetched £2,256,150 at Christie’s — a new world auction record for an Einstein letter.
Meanwhile, a signed first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first of JK Rowling’s novels, went for £126,750. It was double the expected sales value and a record for the series.
Einstein, responsible for the theory of relativity, penned the one-and-a-half page note to German philosopher Eric Gutkind in 1954, a year before he died at 76.
Written in his native German, it read: ‘The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.’
The letter was seen as proof he was an atheist, an idea he later rejected, saying their ‘intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics’.
He also mused on his Jewish identity, writing: ‘For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.’
A spokesman for Christie’s said only 500 copies of JK Rowling’s 1997 children’s classic were printed in the first run, with 300 going to libraries.
‘While the story of the boy wizard Harry Potter would go on to take the world by storm, Rowling was totally unknown upon its first publication.’
A collection of original printing blocks for the first editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland sold for £63,375 while a copy of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection sold for £126,750.
In total, the fine printed books and manuscripts auction made sales of over £4.2million.