June 16, 2019

Famous Einstein photo sells at auction for $125,000

A famous photograph of Albert Einstein, sticking out his tongue at a photographer and signed by the renowned scientist, has been sold for $125,000, the Nate D. Sanders auction house in Los Angeles announced the evening of July 27.

As per company policy, the Sanders auction house did not reveal the buyer’s identity.

United Press International (UPI) photographer Arthur Sasse took the picture on March 14, 1951, while covering a birthday party for Einstein, given by his colleagues at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University.

Einstein had gotten tired of smiling for photographers at the party and when Sasse renewed the request, the scientist stuck out his tongue instead.

Initially, UPI editors hesitated to publish the irreverent photo, but when they did, Einstein was so amused that he ordered nine prints to give to close friends.

The $125,000 selling price, which equaled the minimum bid level set by the auction house, reflected the photo’s enhanced value through Einstein’s own signature on the margin. While the photo is generally shown cropped with only Einstein in the picture, the auctioned version represents the original, with Einstein seated between his hosts, Frank Aydelotte, head of the Princeton Institute, and his wife.

The 7-by-10 photo was previously on the market in 2009, when it was sold at auction for $74,324. The Hebrew University stands to benefit from the current $125,000 sale, since Einstein bequeathed his estate, including the use of his image, to the Jerusalem institution. Einstein, who died in 1955, assisted numerous Jewish institutions and organizations during his lifetime.

Einstein’s March 14 birthday continues to be celebrated in Princeton at “Pi Day” because the 3/14 date corresponds to 3.14, the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi.

His name has retained its universal recognition as a synonym for supreme intelligence. The National Geographic television channel has just concluded a series titled “Genius,” with Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn as the older and younger Einstein, respectively.