The Einstein letter to Eric Gutkind – £170,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions on May 15.

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The unrecorded manuscript gave a personal insight into one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and was the highlight of the 25th anniversary sale at Bloomsbury Auctions on May 15.

Written in German to his friend the philosopher Eric Gutkind, Einstein wrote: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish." The letter, written in 1954, went on public sale in 1955 and has been in private hands ever since.

With strong interest from the US, the buyer was described as a private overseas collector who the auctioneers said "had a passion for theoretical physics and all that that entails".