Stephen Hawking's thesis and wheelchair sell for $1 million

Christopher Davidson
November 11, 2018

The motorized chair, used by Hawking after he was paralyzed with motor neuron disease, raised 296,750 pounds ($385,122) in a Christie's online auction.

In total, the auction raised $1.8 million for charity. The online auction was named "On the Shoulders of Giants", a reference to a phrase coined by mathematician Isaac Newton.

This motorised wheelchair used by British physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in March at the age of 76, was sold at auction for £296,750 (S$532,100).

Whoever walks away the lucky owner of the invitations will have to hold on to them, or at least pass them down for many generations to come, as per Hawking's wish. The chair was initially expected to sell for roughly between $13,000 and $20,000.

It was sold for almost twenty times what it was expected to snatch at auction, and its sale will benefit both the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

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When the document was made available online a year ago by Cambridge University, where Hawking spent his career, it was so popular that it crashed the website.A collection of his medals and awards, including honours from the Royal Astronomical Society sold for £296,750, with the entire collection achieving £1,384,625.

A handwritten page is seen from a copy of the 1965 PhD thesis by the British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking ahead of an auction of items from his personal estate at Christie's in London, Britain October 30, 2018. "He had this awesome ability to connect with people", said Mr Thomas Venning, head of the Books and Manuscripts department at Christie's London.

Hawking's belongings, however, weren't the only ones included in the 52-item strong lot.

The items are only a small selection from Hawking's archive, which his family is donating to the nation in lieu of paying inheritance tax, although there are no details yet of where it will be stored.

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