Handwritten Einstein love letter up for auction in Jerusalem
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Theoretical attraction

Handwritten Einstein love letter up for auction in Jerusalem

Physicist wrote note to a 22-year-old woman who rejected him in 1921; auction house owner calls note 'outrageous,' saying today he would feature in #MeToo campaign for it

A picture taken on March 6, 2018 in Jerusalem shows Winner's auction house owner and manager Gal Wiener holding up a letter written by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein to Italian chemist Elisabetta Piccini, dated 1921, prior to its auctioning later in the night with the rest of a series of nine. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
A picture taken on March 6, 2018 in Jerusalem shows Winner's auction house owner and manager Gal Wiener holding up a letter written by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein to Italian chemist Elisabetta Piccini, dated 1921, prior to its auctioning later in the night with the rest of a series of nine. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

For Albert Einstein, it turns out the law of attraction was relative.

A handwritten note by the Nobel-winning scientist, written to a young woman who apparently caught his eye during a trip to Italy, was up for auction in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Winner’s Auctions and Exhibitions says Einstein was visiting his sister in Florence in October 1921 and learned that a young chemistry student named Elisabetta Piccini lived in the apartment upstairs. It says the 42-year-old Einstein was interested in meeting the 22-year-old woman, who was the daughter of a famous chemist, but she was too shy and turned him down.

Einstein was married at the time to his second wife, Elsa.

When Einstein left Florence, he left the signed note in German: “To the scientific researcher, at whose feet I lay and sat for two full days, as a friendly souvenir.”

The phrase “to lie at somebody’s feet” is an expression of affection in German.

Albert Einstein, during a lecture in Vienna in 1921. (Wikipedia/public domain)

Gal Wiener, chief executive of Winner’s called the note “outrageous.”

“She didn’t want to meet famous people. She was modest and he left her a note,” he said. “You know nowadays [about] the “MeToo” campaign? Probably Einstein would have been in this campaign by leaving such a note to this lady.”

Tuesday’s auction also included a 1928 letter from Einstein to his colleague Herman Muntz, in which the auction house said he laid out ideas for his “Third Stage of the Theory of Relativity,” and a photo of Einstein smoking a pipe.

Last October, Winner’s sold another Einstein letter with his thoughts about happiness for $1.3 million.

“We’ve been selling Einstein items for quite a long time now and we have [had] tremendous success,” Wiener said. He said people around the world “are interested in Einstein, not just the mathematical, the physical part, also his personal life.”

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