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Albert Einstein, photo taken by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse. Image courtesy RRAuction.com.

Print of iconic Einstein photo sells for $74K

Albert Einstein, photo taken by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse. Image courtesy RRAuction.com.
Albert Einstein, photo taken by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse. Image courtesy RRAuction.com.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – One of the original signed prints of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out at photographers has been sold by a New Hampshire auction house for $74,324.

“Every kid has it in their dorm room on the wall,” Bobby Livingston of RRAuction.com in Amherst said Saturday. “It’s such an iconic display of freedom of speech.”

The picture was taken in 1951 by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse after a 72nd birthday celebration for the physicist. As Sasse tried to coax a smile for the camera, Einstein stuck out his tongue.

Two years later, at the height of the McCarthy anti-Communist hearings, Einstein signed the photo and gave it to broadcaster Howard K. Smith as a gesture of his admiration of Smith’s work.

Translated from German, the inscription says: “This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare. Your loyal and grateful listener, A. Einstein ’53.”

By 1953, Einstein had begun speaking out against McCarthyism.

“Einstein, escaping Nazi Germany, fully understood what was happening in this country and was commenting on it,” Livingston said. “That’s what makes it so special, he wrote on it and explained his intentions.”

David Waxman of Great Neck, N.Y., is the new owner. He is a specialist in important scientific books and autographs.

Waxman said the image probably is the best-known picture of Einstein, appearing on T-shirts and even currently on a New York City billboard.

He said Einstein’s inscription makes it even more valuable.

“It’s one of a kind, highly important, speaks to the culture, speaks to anybody who looks at it and thinks about it a bit,” Waxman said. “It’s a message of intelligent nonconformity.”

Waxman intends to put the photo up for sale, perhaps with other photos of famous scientists.
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AP-ES-06-20-09 1511EDT