Albert Einstein Tipped a Bellhop By Gifting Him with the Key to Happiness

Despite transforming the field of physics in the early 20th century with the general theory of relativity and special theory of relativity, as well as garnering a Nobel Prize for his “discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect,” Albert Einstein somehow always managed to remain a humble man. Which is why in 1922, during a stay at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the legendary physicist gave a bellhop who refused a tip a couple of handwritten notes of thoughtful life advice instead. Notes that just sold at auction for a combined $1.8 million. Which would make that tip prettay prettay prettay good.

The Washington Post reported on the insane sale of the notes, which took place in Jerusalem at Winner’s Auctions and Exhibitions auction house. Meni Chadad, a spokesperson for Winner’s Auctions, told The New York Times that the notes were expected to go for $5,000 to $8,000 and $6,000 respectively. But after only 25 minutes of bidding, the first had gone for $1.56 million. A short while later, the second had sold for $240,000.

Photo from Albert Einstein’s visit to Tohoku University in 1922. Image: Wikimedia / Public Domain

So what kind of advice does $1.8 million get you these days? Both notes, which were written on hotel stationary, were in Einstein’s native German, but translated, the first, more expensive, one says “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” The second one simply says “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” Which is advice everybody’s probably heard in one form or another before, but seems a bit more powerful coming from one of the smartest people in history.

Commemorative dinner in Japan from Einstein’s 1922 trip. Image: Wikimedia / UMUT Exhibition

After writing the tip notes for the bellhop, Einstein, who’d just found out he’d won the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics, went on to lecture thousands and thousands of Japanese people, as well as meet with the emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace. In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein, Einstein: His Life and Universe, it’s reported that Einstein said in reaction to the crowds who showed up to see him that “No living person deserves this sort of reception.” Considering how much his notes on hotel stationary go for now, maybe he was wrong about that.

What do you think about the prices on these Einstein tip notes? Are you thinking about starting a second career as a bellhop? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

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Images: Wikimedia / Meiji Seihanjo 

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