Stephen Hawking's Wheelchair and Thesis Auctioned for 1 million dollars

Eloise Marshall
November 11, 2018

Some of his belongings including essays, medals, awards and a copy of his book a "Brief History of Time" signed with a thumbprint were sold online on Thursday alongside letters and manuscripts belonging to Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The two items raised £881,500 (S$1.6 million).

His dissertation of 117 pages named "Properties of expanding universes" was sold for 584,750 pounds.

A Book, and scripts by Stephen Hawking are among the personal and academic possessions of Stephen Hawking at the auction house Christies in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

The collection highlighted the brilliance, determination and sense of humour of Hawking, who died in March aged 76 after a lifetime, spent trying to unlock the secrets of the universe.

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The motorized wheelchair he used from the late 1980's until the mid-90's sold for about $390,000, or 20 times the initial estimate.

Hawking's motorized wheelchair and a set of his medals and awards have been sold for a combined total of nearly £600,000, while a copy of his Ph.D. thesis raised almost the same amount on its own. It was a somewhat odd item, if only because it was the only thing on the auction block that related to Hawking's disability rather than his scientific work, but it still managed to fetch an absolutely astronomical price.

Hawking's daughter, Lucy, said the sale provided "admirers of his work the chance to acquire a memento of our father's extraordinary life in the shape of a small selection of evocative and fascinating items".

Holy wow. What's fantastic about this isn't just the price, but the fact that the auction was essentially for charity, with proceeds going to the Stephen Hawking Foundation as well as the Motor Neurone Disease Association, both of which were causes that Hawking cared deeply about. Hawking's family is donating other items from Hawking's archive to the British government in lieu of paying inheritance tax.

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