Descendant of Einstein reaps relatively little

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The theory of relativity does not help very much if you belong to the same family tree as Albert Einstein, the legendary physicist who invented it. You're his kin? Sorry, but E=MC equals diddly squat.

Feeling especially left out of the equation is his granddaughter Evelyn Einstein. While struggling to make ends meet in California – and recovering from cancer – she has watched in astonishment as the money river from Einstein merchandise – bobble-head dolls, videos, mugs, coins, dog bowls, you name it – has flowed unabated.

The problem, of course, is that it's not emptying into the pockets of her or any of the scattered Einstein descendants but rather to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to which Einstein, who was born to Jewish German parents, bequeathed the literary rights to his papers as well as other items in his estate upon his death in 1955.

Ms Einstein, who is 69, is now going public with her anger with the university, which later trademarked the Einstein name and his likeness and uses a Los Angeles-based licensing company called Greenlight LLC to handle the merchandising industry spawned by the late genius with electrified hair.

"I never made any issue of the fact that they were willed the literary estate," Ms Einstein said this week. "But what does a bobble-head have to do with a literary estate? I was really offended by some of the stuff that was being OK'd." She added: "I'm outraged. It's hard for me to believe they would treat the family the way they have."

For its part, the university seems unconcerned by her complaints, issuing a statement to CNN that contained not a flicker of empathy. "Einstein left all of his intellectual property, encompassing his literary estate and personal papers, to the Hebrew University, including the rights to the use of his image... the income of the university from the use of his image is dedicated to scientific research."

Ms Einstein is the adopted daughter of Albert's son, Hans Albert, who emigrated from Switzerland to California in 1938, although she told Discover magazine that she was told when growing up that she was actually a secret love-child of Albert himself.

In any event, having the Einstein name seems to have given no advantages to a woman who has admitted to living at times in a car and eating food taken from rubbish skips. "Everyone assumes I'm filthy rich, and they think I have a mental problem because I'm not using my money," she told the New York Post.

In 2008, Ms Einstein said she had worked over the years as a dog-catcher, a cult deprogrammer and a reserve policewoman. However, she has suffered from years of ill-health from liver disease and cancer. She said she had hitherto said nothing about the muddled stories of her relationship to Einstein.

"I realised that this big, dark secret about my birth was an open book to many people," she said. "Since I have no proof, I thought that if I broached this subject to people they would think that I am crazy, a total fruitcake! So I never spoke about it."

Tapping into the money from the bobble-head dolls and other Einstein merchandise may be her last hope. But whenever she has approached the Hebrew University about sharing the profits, she has been "rudely blown away", she asserts, adding that it has treated her and her family "abysmally".