By Stewart Bishop, Globe Correspondent
The man's name is synonymous with genius. But he's sticking his tongue out just like any kid.
The incongruous image is considered one of the world's best-known pictures. And one of the original prints made for Albert Einstein was sold Thursday by a New Hampshire auction house for $74,324.
"It's pretty exciting," said Bobby Livingston, director of sales and marketing at RRAuction.com in Amherst, N.H. "It's such a famous, iconic photo. Just the experience of handling it ... I think it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen."
Livingston said it was the highest price ever paid for a photograph of the legendary theoretical physicist.
The picture was taken by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse in 1951 at Princeton University after a celebration honoring Einstein on his 72d birthday. Einstein playfully stuck out his tongue when Sasse asked for a birthday photo, the New York Times reported in 1952, when the photo won an award.
Einstein loved the image and had nine prints made for his personal use, the auctioneers said.
The photo auctioned was a signed print Einstein gave to his friend, CBS and ABC journalist Howard K. Smith, as a gesture of admiration for his work, the auctioneers said. The inscription, translated from the German reads: “This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare.Your loyal and grateful listener, A. Einstein ’53.” The seller bought the photo from Smith's estate, Livingston said.
"I feel that he's written an important message about his views of current events," said David Waxman, of Great Neck, N.Y., who bought the photo. "It's a museum-level piece. Here is the man of the 20th century and here he is sticking out his tongue at humanity and the very officiousness of the McCarthy era."
Livingston said his company deals exclusively in autographed photos and rare documents and, in 30 years of operation, this is by far the highest price an item has ever fetched.
"When I see the combination of text and image, it magnifies the importance," said Waxman. "I felt it was an honor to handle it."
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