Ahead of Oscars, rare Oppenheimer nuclear bomb documents up for auction

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A Boston-based auction house is offering up several documents signed by J. Robert Oppenheimer, just ahead of Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, which is expected to be a big night for the “Oppenheimer” biopic.

RR Auction is offering a rare signed copy of a 1945 document known as the “Smyth Report,” as well as a letter in which the New York-born scientist describes the nuclear bomb as a “weapon for aggressors.”

As of Saturday, the Smyth Report had drawn a top bid of $35,000 and the signed letter was sitting at a top bid of just under $5,000, with the auctions scheduled to conclude Wednesday.

The Smyth Report report offers intimate details on the development of the bomb, and includes Oppenheimer’s signature in addition to 23 others who were a part of the famous Manhattan Project, including Enrico Fermi and Ernest Lawrence.

It was named the “Smyth Report” after its author Henry Smyth, and contains around 200 pages written before testing of the first bomb began in New Mexico.

The letter in which Oppenheimer describes the bomb as a weapon for aggressors is one page long, and the auction house says Oppenheimer sent it to Stephen White, a writer for Look magazine.

In it, Oppenheimer discusses Russia’s growing stockpile of nuclear weapons and how the methods of delivery and strategy for the atomic bomb may differ if it were to be used again after the U.S. 1945 attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“But it is a weapon for aggressors, and the elements of surprise and of terror are as intrinsic to it as are the fissionable nuclei,” Oppenheimer writes.

The letter is signed “Opje,” which is the Dutch nickname Oppenheimer acquired during his time in the Netherlands in the late 1920s.

According to the biography “American Prometheus,” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, on which the movie was largely based, Oppenheimer continued to use the Dutch nickname well into his adult years working on the atomic bomb.

Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer,” which focuses on the scientist’s life around the time of the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb, is predicted to sweep many of the major categories at the Academy Awards, according to film critic Peter Hammond.

Actor Cillian Murphy is also predicted to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Oppenheimer, and Nolan is predicted to win Best Director.

The film is also predicted by many to take home the most coveted award of the evening: Best Picture, after raking in nearly $1 billion at the box office.

With News Wire Services