A collection of correspondence from Albert Einstein relating to his attempts to free a German refugee from a Canadian camp is selling at Israel’s Winner’s Auctions on March 6.
The letters date to the summer of 1942 and concern a young student named Helmut Blume. Blume had managed to avoid being drafted into the German army by pretending to be clinically depressed. While this had got him out of one tricky situation, once he escaped to Canada he found himself trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare.
The 10 letter collection, which successfully saw Blume freed, includes four from Einstein on Blume’s behalf, as well as several from Fajans. Blume’s original letter is also featured. The lot is valued at $15,000-20,000.
There’s huge demand for Einstein letters. While the top prices are typically reserved for those that reference his work, pieces relating to his humanitarian interests are also popular. Rising interest continues to push values skywards. A short Einstein note to a Japanese courier advising him to live “a quiet and modest life” sold for a massive $1.5m last year. This latest collection could well sell for more than its high estimate. Dealers in particular may be drawn to splitting the collection and selling the four Einstein letters on separately at a profit.
Helmut Blume went on to become a successful pianist, and a professor emeritus at Canada’s McGill University. He died in 1998.