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Still Waters

Einstein’s handwritten calculations for theory of relativity to be auctioned for €3m

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Still Waters

A crucial series of Albert Einstein’s calculations, scrawled down as the physicist struggled to account for an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury while developing his theory of general relativity, is set to be auctioned for an eye-watering estimate of up to €3m.

Christie’s France and auction house Aguttes, who will auction the manuscript in Paris on 23 November for an estimate of €2m-€3m, said it documents a crucial stage in the development of the theory of general relativity, and is “without doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever offered at auction”.

Written between June 1913 and early 1914 by Einstein and his friend and collaborator Michele Besso, the Swiss engineer, the manuscript runs to 54 pages, 26 pages in Einstein’s hand and 25 in Besso’s, with three pages written on by both. Covered in equations and calculations, with extensive corrections and crossings-out, it sees the pair tackling the anomaly in the orbit of the planet Mercury, a problem that had bedevilled the scientific community for decades, using the early version of the field equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.


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