Evelyn Einstein Died in Squalor, Despite Grandfather's Riches

Albert Einstein willed his estate to Hebrew University, not to family.

April 20, 2011— -- Evelyn Einstein experienced poverty and homelessness and was a self-proclaimed "dumpster diver," all while the estate of her famous grandfather -- one of the most iconic figures of all time -- earned millions.

Albert Einstein's granddaughter spent the latter part of her life complaining publicly that the man she called "Grampa" had never left her -- or the other members of the family -- a dime.

On April 13, Evelyn Einstein died at the age of 70 in her home in Albany, Calif., still fighting to get a piece of his estate.

Her brainy grandfather died in 1955, leaving 75,000 papers and other items to Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The elder Einstein's name and likeness draw annual earnings of $10 million, according to the 2010 Forbes magazine "Top Earning Dead Celebrities" list. He ranks eighth after Michael Jackson (1), Stieg Larsson (6) and Dr. Seuss (7).

All royalties go to the Israeli university for scholarships and research.

The man behind the face of Baby Einstein products, "geek chic" glasses and Nintendo brain games had a "strained" relationship with his family, according to Eileen K. Morales, curator for the current Einstein exhibit at the Princeton Historical Society in New Jersey.

Einstein lived for 22 years in Princeton while on the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Evelyn Einstein was the adopted daughter of Einstein's first son Hans Albert, who was an engineering professor at University of California, Berkeley.

Albert Einstein met his first wife, Mileva Maric, during their student days in Switzerland. "He was starting at the bottom of academia and it was a little tough on them," Morales said.

They had two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard, and a daughter who died before the age of 2, probably of scarlet fever. They divorced in 1919 while living in Berlin. Einstein then married his cousin Elsa, but they had no children.

Einstein and his second wife, plus her two daughters and his secretary Helen Dukas, immigrated to the United States in 1933. Hans Albert, who was an adult at the time, later moved to California where his daughter Evelyn was raised.

Evelyn Einstein had a rocky life, despite speaking four or five languages and earning a master's degree in medieval literature from Berkeley, according to her obituary in The New York Times.

Working alternately as a dog catcher, a cult deprogrammer and a police officer, Evelyn Einstein was impoverished after her divorce. She was married for 13 years to eccentric professor Grover Krantz, a Washington State University anthropologist who attempted to prove Big Foot existed.

After his 2002, death, Krantz's skeleton and that of his Irish wolfhound were placed on display at the National Museum of Natural History.

Meanwhile, his ex-wife slept in cars and scrounged for discarded food. For a while, she lived with her father, then was homeless for three months before moving in with three women in Berkeley.

Einstein Family Sued for Scientist's Money

Einstein's granddaughter found his unpublished manuscript, which led to the 1986 discovery of a trove of love letters describing his difficult first marriage to Maric. A decade later, they were auctioned off for $900,000.

She joined the Einstein family and sued for proceeds in a matter that was settled privately, according to New York Times.

Just before her death this year, she fought Hebrew University for some of the estate's profits.

"I'm outraged," said Evelyn Einstein, who told CNN that she wanted the money to move into an assisted living facility. "It's hard for me to believe they would treat the family the way they have, which has been abysmally."

In an interview with Michael Paterniti for his 2000 book "Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain," she said, "It's not so easy being an Einstein. When I was in school at Berkeley in the '60s, I could never tell if men wanted to be with me because of me, or my name. To say, you know, 'I had an Einstein.'"

According to the book, Princeton pathologist Thomas Harvey, who had taken Einstein's brain after an autopsy, offered a piece of it to his grandddaughter, but she declined.

Morales, who runs an exhibit of Einstein's furniture from his former Princeton home, said the scientist likely saw very little of his granddaughter, who was only 6 years old when he died.

"I do think you learn about him through the objects he was surrounded with," she said of the 17-piece exhibit.

"Some of the pieces are very Germanic and you can imagine them in a middle to upper class German household," she said. "There is a mirror which we sort of joke about as we picture him with his wild hair."

Einstein was also somewhat alienated from his two sons.

"Hans Albert and his brother Eduard were close to their mother after the divorce, and even while they were married, when [Einstein] became an academic and a world figure, he was drifting away from his family and less involved in their lives," Morales said.

As they became adults, the relationship improved, according to biographical papers by Bela Kornitzer donated to Drew University.

"They talked out their difficulties and emphasized how things had gotten better as they got older and had many things in common," said Morales.

Evelyn Einstein, who was being treated for heart and lung disease, as well as diabetes, was reportedly writing a memoir before her death.

Sadly, according to Morales, the girl Evelyn likely never had much of a bond with her grandfather, but Albert Einstein did enjoy children.

"There were many stories about how he would talk to children on Mercer Street and in the neighborhood and when they would come to the door," she said. "Einstein was known for his interest in children."