Culture

Genius buy: Einstein's smelly leather jacket sells for $146,000

Is this the sweet smell of science? Christie's sells the famed physicist's favorite piece of clothing at auction.

Everyone's got a favorite piece of clothing -- those lived-in jeans, that oh-so-soft sweatshirt. Legendary physicist Albert Einstein had one too -- a comfy, rich-brown leather jacket that the Nobel Prize winner apparently loved so much he even wore it in the heat of the Bahamas.

The jacket sold for $146,000 (£110,500, AU $192,000) at a Christie's auction in London on Wednesday. The earliest photos of Einstein in the jacket came after he fled Nazi rule in Germany and arrived in the US in 1933, Christie's specialist Thomas Venning said on the auction house's site.

"This jacket seems to capture Einstein's mood as he embarks on a new life in the US," Venning said. "It's made by Levi Strauss, and feels particularly American."

Being a no-nonsense kind of guy, Einstein wore the jacket everywhere, to save himself the fuss of having a variety of coats, Venning said.

Also auctioned by Christie's were Einstein's pocket watch and the building blocks he played with as a child in Germany in the 1880s. The blocks sold for $82,500 (£62,500, AU $109,000) and the watch for a whopping $352,000 (£266,500, AU $463,000).

The jacket isn't heading for someone's closet. It was purchased by the company that made it, Levi Strauss, and will find a home in the company archives.

They might want to air it out a little. Apparently the scientist was no fan of dry cleaning. "Einstein was an incessant pipe smoker and, astonishingly, 60 years after his death, his jacket still smells of smoke," Venning said.