Einstein Smelly Leather Jacket: Sold at $190,000


Albert Einstein definitely had a geek-chic thing going on.

Levi Strauss & Co. said Thursday that it had placed the winning bid of £110,500 (or $146,744) for a Levi’s brown leather “Cossack” jacket that Albert Einstein wore in the 1930s. The jacket was estimated to sell in the range of £40,000 to £60,000 ($53,120 to $79,680).

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Auction house Christie’s has auctioned what it describes as a “rather pungent” Levi Strauss leather jacket that belonged to Albert Einstein, that’s just a fancy way of saying that he wore this jacket a lot and it smells really bad.

Einstein is believed to have purchased this jacket during the mid-1930s when he came over to America from Germany. It’s said that he wore this jacket almost all the time.

One of Einstein’s colleagues at Princeton University, Leopold Infeld, said of Einstein’s personal style in the book “Quest: An Autobiography”: “One of my colleagues in Princeton asked me, ‘If Einstein dislikes his fame and would like to increase his privacy, why does he … wear his hair long, a funny leather jacket, no socks, no suspenders, no ties?’

“We are slaves of millions of things,” Infeld continued, adding: “Einstein tried to reduce them to the absolute minimum. Long hair minimized the need for the barber. Socks can be done without. One leather jacket solves the coat problems for many years.”

In a separate blog post, Christie’s stated that Einstein wore the jacket so often that “it retains his scent.” Einstein was a pipe smoker.

The jacket was sold alongside Einstein’s silver pocket watch from around 1900, which went for £266,500 ($355,451), and his set of children’s building blocks from the 1880s, which sold for £62,500 ($83,356). The jacket was part of Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction, which took place on July 13.

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The jacket is headed to the LS&Co. Archives, according to a statement attributed to Tracey Panek, historian for San Francisco–based Levi Strauss.