A note about happiness that Albert Einstein gave to a bellboy in 1922 has sold at auction for $1.56 million, far surpassing its estimated value of between $5,000 and $8,000.
The year 1922 was a big one for Einstein. The physicist was given the Nobel Prize for Physics, he finished his first paper on unified theory, and he traveled to France, Palestine, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Japan. Einstein stayed at Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel while visiting Japan. He met the emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace and was greeted by thousands of people. He also gave a four-hour lecture in the capital city to a group of almost 2,500 people, according to NPR.
When a bellhop delivered something to Einstein’s hotel, he did not receive a tip, either because he refused to accept one or the physicist didn’t have small change in his pocket. In lieu of a tip, Einstein wrote some words of wisdom on hotel stationery:
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
Einstein wrote another message on the second sheet of paper: “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
The physicist told the bellhop that he should hold on to the notes because they may be valuable one day—and he was right. The note about happiness recently sold at an auction in Jerusalem, Israel, to an anonymous bidder for $1.56 million. The second note sold for $240,000. The notes were reportedly put up for auction by the Japanese bellboy’s great-nephew.
According to a spokesman for the auction house, they expected the notes to receive bids between $5,000 and $8,000. Meni Chadad told the New York Times: “It was an all-time record for an auction of a document in Israel, and it was just wow, wow, wow. I think the value can be explained by the fact that the story behind the tip is so uplifting and inspiring, and because Einstein continues to be a global rock star long after his death.”