Letters written by Albert Einstein about God, Israel and physics fetched nearly $210,000 at a Jerusalem auction Tuesday, with the highest bid going to a missive about God’s creation of the world.
Eight letters, written in English between 1951 and 1954 and signed by Einstein, were sold by Winners auction house, which had initially estimated their combined value at between $31,000 and $46,000.
The highest bid of $84,000 was for a letter to eminent physicist David Bohm.
In it Einstein wrote: “If God has created the world his primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.” It was written in February 1954, a year before his death.
In another missive to Bohm, which sold for $50,400, Einstein discussed the link his colleague made between quantum theory and “relativistic field theory”.
“I must confess that I am not able to guess how such unification could be achieved,” Einstein wrote.
The typewritten letter includes an equation added in neat handwriting and the writer’s signature.
Bohm, born in the United States to Jewish immigrant parents, had worked with Einstein at Princeton University before fleeing to Brazil after losing his post in Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunts.
In another letter from February 1953, Einstein compares “the present state of mind” of America gripped by McCarthyist anti-Communism to the paranoia in Germany in the early 20th century under Kaiser Wilhelm II. Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s led a hunt for alleged communist traitors he believed worked in the government and the army.
Bohm, having left the US in the midst of the so-called Red Scare, conveyed dismay and displeasure about living in Brazil, where he was working at the University of Sao Paulo.
Einstein said the foreseeable future didn’t portend a “more reasonable political attitude” in the United States, and that Bohm ought to hold out in Brazil until he gets citizenship before leaving for a more “intellectual atmosphere.”
Israeli illusionist and magician Uri Geller bought a 1954 letter in which Einstein discusses the possibility of Bohm moving to Israel.
“Israel is intellectually alive and interesting but has very narrow possibilities and to go there with the intention to leave on the first occasion would be regrettable,” wrote Einstein.
Bohm took up a visiting professorship at Israel’s renowned Technion technological institute in 1955 and moved to England two years later.
Einstein himself declined an offer in 1952 to become Israel’s president, though he served remotely on the Hebrew University’s first Board of Governors and left his papers to the school in his will.
The auction house said the letters came from the estate of Bohm’s late widow.