Handwritten Einstein note up for auction in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — 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.

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.

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 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 a 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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