20 in Their 20s: Anthony Iliakostas

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A business manager brings the genius of Albert Einstein to social media

Albert Einstein died in 1955, but the theoretical physicist is riding—dare we say it?—a gravitational wave of popularity that’s been rippling through the fabric of space, time, and social media.

Case in point: On February 11, 2016, after scientists recorded the “sound” of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, confirming one of Einstein’s century-old theories, @AlbertEinstein tweeted a picture of the scientist smiling at his desk. A microphone, obviously photoshopped, hung in mid-air near his raised left hand. If Einstein were alive, the tweet said, “he’d totally do a mic drop.”

That tweet is one of thousands crafted by Anthony Iliakostas, a Queens native who majored in communications at Fordham and, since 2015, has been handling the verified social media accounts for “the World’s Favorite Genius.” It’s part of his job as a business affairs manager in the New York office of Greenlight, a rights-clearance agency that represents the Einstein estate.

In addition to promoting the Einstein brand on social media, Iliakostas helps make commercial licensing deals on behalf of the estate. That’s how depictions of Einstein end up on apparel, on TV shows, and as smartphone emoji. It’s big business: Last October, Forbes listed the Einstein estate at No. 9 on its list of “The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities of 2016,” with earnings of $11.5 million.

Before joining Greenlight, Iliakostas created Law and Batting Order, a web show on sports law that he still hosts; earned a J.D. at New York Law School; and worked briefly in the rights department at ABC News. He says Einstein’s enduring popularity, particularly among millennials, has much to do with his playful, rebellious personality and his passionate sense of social justice.

“People see Einstein as a man for our times,” Iliakostas says. “I try to tell that story on social media by humanizing him. I try to go beyond his scientific theories to highlight Einstein the humanitarian, Einstein the civil rights activist, with insightful quotes from him on love and art and topics that make it clear that he was not just a brain, and that he had flaws and passions just like the rest of us.”

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