Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair Among Belongings To Be Sold


The online sale announced Monday by auctioneer Christie's features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, some of his many awards, and scientific papers such as "Spectrum of Wormholes" and "Fundamental Breakdown of Physics in Gravitational Collapse".

Only five copies of the Ph.D. thesis exist - although a digital copy was made available online for free by Cambridge University Library's Open Access Week past year.

Another key item to go on sale will be Hawking's first wheelchair, at an estimated price of between £10,000 and £15,000. At the time, Hawking had already been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or colloquially known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Remembering renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking in his own words.

The online auction begins Wednesday, Oct. 31, and concludes on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Thomas Venning, the head of books and manuscripts at Christie's, told the AP that the doctoral thesis reflects both Hawking's scientific achievements and his personal history.

Mr Venning said the wheelchair became a symbol not just of disability but of Professor Hawking's "puckish sense of humour".

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The scientist was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 22 and was eventually strapped into his wheelchair, unable to walk again.

His illness left him wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication. Its pre-sale estimated value is between $12,600 and $18,900. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Stephen Hawking Foundation, which facilitates scientific researches, and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. He once ran over Prince Charles' toes - and reportedly joked that he wished he had done the same to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - and appeared in a "Monty Python" skit running down fellow physicist Brian Cox. Hawking's notes and equations are visible in some of the pieces, including a line from his October 1965 Cambridge University doctorate thesis stating "This dissertation is my original work", followed by a "S.W. Hawking" signature.

This particular chair is the last one used by Hawking while he still had control of his hands and before needing more sophisticated technology.

A bomber jacket Hawking wore in a 2016 documentary, Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places for the video-on-demand streaming service CuriosityStream, has the lowest starting bid, at £100.

Ms Hawking said Christie's had been helping the family "manage our beloved father's unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings".

Daughter Lucy Hawking has noted that, through the auction, fans of the scientist will get the chance to become owners of the relics, reminding about the unusual life of a theoretical physicist.