Last Tuesday night, Christie’s auction house in Paris auctioned the manuscript of the theory of relativity by the great 20th century scientist Albert Einstein. Despite being valued between two and three million euros, this 54-page manuscript ended up reaching the figure of 11.6 million euros. This document is the 1913 draft of the scientist and his partner Michele Besso on the theory of relativity published in 1915.
The uniqueness of the document lies in the fact that Einstein decided to destroy the documents on his theories. According to the auction house, it is “undoubtedly the best Einstein manuscript ever auctioned”.
This draft is composed of 26 pages handwritten by the great German scientist, 25 by his friend Michele Besso and three pages contributed by two physicists who had a good friendship with Einstein.
Theory of relativity
The final formula of the theory of relativity was published on November 25, 1915. It presented the formulation of the concept of the curvature of space-time. Einstein succeeded after 10 years of attempts (1905). Together with Besso, they were trying to explain the reason for an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. A question that at that time no scientific expert could give answers to. In 1913 they abandoned the work and his friend Besso kept the drafts of the theory.
Two years later, in September 1905, Einstein went back to work on it. He reworked several calculations and managed to find the approach. In November he was able to explain with the theory of relativity that anomaly in Mercury’s orbit.
Drafts of Einstein’s research
There are only two manuscripts with research drafts that prove the scientist’s work on the theory of relativity. We find the Zurich notebook of late 1912 and early 1913 and the one auctioned at Christie’s by Einstein and Besso in June 1913.
The manuscript was already auctioned 20 years ago at Christie’s New York headquarters. The winning bidder decided to put the draft back on sale, according to the auction house.