Christie’s to offer important Albert Einstein letter Dec. 4

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), ‘The God Letter,’ autograph letter signed (‘A. Einstein’) to Eric Gutkind, Princeton, N.J., Jan. 3, 1954. Estimate: $1 million-$1.5 million. Christie’s images

NEW YORK – Christie’s will offer one of the most important manuscripts by the 20th century’s most famous thinker, Albert Einstein’s “God Letter” on Dec. 4. This letter, which is addressed to philosopher Eric Gutkind, combines Einstein’s thoughts on religion, his Jewish identity, and his own search for meaning in life.

Written a year before Einstein’s death in 1955, the letter remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views.

“It concerns themes that have been central to human inquiry since the dawn of human consciousness, and it is one of the definitive statements in the religion vs. science debate,” said Peter Klarnet, Christie’s senior specialist, Books & Manuscripts.

Einstein wrote this remarkable private letter in response to Gutkind’s book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. He offers his candid and unvarnished opinion that: “The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this.” And despite a strong cultural affinity with the Jewish people, Einstein did not exclude Judaism from his critique: He admired and loved his people, but is clear in his belief that they were not “chosen” above others.