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03 August 2017

Why this Albert Einstein photo sold for $157,000

There is a lot more to this iconic pic than meets the eye.

THIS image of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out has to be one of the most recognisable moments ever captured on film.

Given how widespread the image has become, it’s hard to imagine that someone would pay $A157,000 for a print of the Nobel prize-winning physicist, yet an unnamed buyer did just that.

Thankfully for that price, the buyer got one of the first prints of the image, which had also been autographed by Albert Einstein.

According to the auction house listing the image, the signature and date of the near fine condition print indicates he signed the print shortly after it was taken.

“Very rare photo signed by Albert Einstein, on the occasion of the Nobel prize winner playfully sticking out his tongue to a group of photographers on his 72nd birthday,” the description read.

“Photo was snapped on 14 March 1951 by Arthur Sasse, a UPI photographer whose employers were at first hesitant about publishing the iconoclastic image of Einstein; when they did, Einstein was so amused by it that he ordered several prints to give out to close friends.

“This image is unlike most which crop the photo to show only Einstein. Here, the photo is shown in its full context with Einstein seated between Dr. Frank Aydelotte, head of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, and Aydelotte’s wife, after celebrating his birthday at the Princeton Club.”

Albert Einstein photo sells at auction. Picture: Arthur Sasse/Nate D Sanders Auctions

Albert Einstein photo sells at auction. Picture: Arthur Sasse/Nate D Sanders AuctionsSource:Supplied

The news comes as a bag containing traces of moon dust — left after Neil Armstrong used it to store lunar rocks collected from the moon after the Apollo 11 landing — sold for $A2.3 million at auction.

After sitting unidentified in a box at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for years, the bag was bought by a person who bid by telephone and did not wish to be named publicly.

$2.3 million for moon dust seems excessive. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

$2.3 million for moon dust seems excessive. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)Source:AP

It was the highest-value item at an auction of moon memorabilia that included the Apollo 13 flight plan annotated by its crew, which sold for $A346,000; a spacesuit worn by U.S. astronaut Gus Grissom, which sold for $A54,750, and a famous image of Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 on the moon taken by Neil Armstrong, which went for $A44,000.

How much would you pay for a pic of Albert Einstein? Continue the conversation in the comments below or with Matthew Dunn on Facebook and Twitter.

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