Albert Einstein’s heavily worn and particularly smelly leather jacket has been auctioned off along with a few of his other worldly possessions.
Since Einstein is hardly known for his fashion sense, the auctioneers only estimated the brown Levi Strauss jacket to go for $52,280 to $78,420. However, on Wednesday, July 13, it managed to sell for a whopping $144,424.
“This is an incredibly worn, rather pungent leather jacket, that belonged to Albert Einstein,” said specialist Thomas Venning in a statement to Christie’s, the auctioneers who put the jacket up for bids. “The jacket first appears in a number of photographs of Einstein, taken at the height of his fame in the mid-1930s.”
Although it isn’t totally clear when Einstein got his hands on the Levi Strauss brand jacket, it is thought to have been one of the first pieces of clothing that the Nobel laureate physicist bought when he emigrated to the United States. Einstein was in New York when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. As a secular man of Jewish-heritage, he decided not to return and became an American citizen in 1940.
“This jacket seems to capture Einstein’s mood as he embarks on a new life in the US. It’s made by Levi Strauss, and feels particularly American,” Venning added.
Amazingly, the jacket still smells of smoke. Perhaps not a surprise since Einstein was such an avid pipe smoker.
The buyer of the jacket has not yet been disclosed, so it’s not known whether it will end up in a private collection or a public display.
At the auction, bidders also battled for toy building blocks he played with as a child, which sold for $81,688. His pocket watch, a fairly poignant memento of a man who so drastically changed the world’s perception of time, sold for $348,416.