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Einstein’s Smelly Leather Jacket Sold at an Auction for Over $144,000

Jul 15, 2016 03:21 AM EDT
Albert Einstein
Portrait of physicist Albert Einstein sitting in an armchair and reading, 1929.
(Photo : Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

An old and rather "pungent" leather jacket belonging to one of the greatest scientists in history was sold at a London auction for $144,424.

The jacket, which belonged to Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Einstein, was sold during Christie's Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale in London on July 13, and it came complete with the strong odor of the scientist's pipe.

According to Christie's, the jacket was sold alongside Einstein's pocket watch and building blocks from his childhood.

"The jacket first appears in a number of photographs of Einstein, taken at the height of his fame in the mid-1930s," specialist Thomas Venning said in a report published at Christie's website.

According to Venning, the jacket was picked up by Einstein when he came to America to escape Nazi rule in his home country Germany. The jacket, which was made by Levi Strauss, may have "captured" the scientist's mood as he received his permanent U.S. residency during that time, Venning said.

Venning said that Einstein and the jacket were almost inseparable, a fact mentioned by Einstein's Princeton colleague Leopold Infeld in one of his memoirs. Einstein wore his hair long, and "one leather jacket solved the coat problem for years," wrote Infeld.

The scientist had worn the jacket so often that, even after several years, the clothing still retains his scent.

"Einstein was an incessant pipe smoker and, astonishingly, 60 years after his death, his jacket still smells of smoke," Venning said, adding that the clothing had been an "electrifying" temporary addition to Christie's books department.

According to Gizmodo, the Indiana Jones-style leather jacket provided a clue of how fashionable the scientist might have been.

Einstein's pocket watch, however, was somewhat older - about the time when Einstein had just graduated. "It dates to around 1900, when Einstein was still a total unknown," Venning said.

"Einstein carried this watch with him while working as a patent clerk in Switzerland, before he came up with one of the great ideas to change the world."

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