In 1922, Albert Einstein handed a Japanese courier two notes outlining his theory of happiness. Almost a century later, the notes – which were completely unknown to researchers – have resurfaced and will be put to auction in Jerusalem.
The first note, written on a sheet of hotel stationery, explains “a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”
The second, scrawled on a blank piece of paper, simply states: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
According to the seller, who has chosen to remain anonymous, the German physicist was staying at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo when their relative, the courier, arrived with a message. At the time, Einstein was working at the University of Berlin and had traveled to Japan for a lecture tour.
Here the story gets a little blurry. Either Einstein couldn’t tip because he had no spare change or he offered and the courier refused as is the local custom. Regardless of what happened, Einstein gifted the courier the two handwritten notes so that he didn’t leave the hotel empty-handed.
“Maybe if you’re lucky those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip,” Einstein supposedly told the courier.
While the notes hold absolutely no scientific value, they might provide useful insight into the private thoughts of one of the world’s most renowned scientists, Roni Grosz, the archivist in charge of the world’s largest Einstein collection at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University explained, reports the Deccan Chronicle.
They are especially poignant because of the time at which they were written – it was shortly after he had been told he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics and his celebrity status outside of academia was on the rise. It could be a reflection on his newfound fame, Grosz has suggested.
“What we’re doing here is painting the portrait of Einstein – the man, the scientist, his effect on the world – through his writings,” said Grosz.
“This is a stone in the mosaic.”
The two notes will go on sale on Tuesday [October 31] at the Winner’s auction house in Jerusalem, alongside other items including two letters Einstein wrote in later years.