Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

Stephen Hawking's wheelchair, papers smash auction estimates

Stephen Hawking's wheelchair, papers smash auction estimates

A wheelchair used by Stephen Hawking has sold at auction for nearly £300,000 pounds ($539,000), while a copy of the scientist's doctoral thesis fetched nearly £585,000. The full collection also included manuscripts by Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein.

In total, the auction, which included 52 lots, raised more than 1.8 million pounds (roughly $2.35 million, AU$3.24 million).

Medals and awards sold for £296,750, compared with an estimate of £15,000, while the red motorized wheelchair sold for £296,750, also compared with an estimate of £15,000.

Among the items sold during the nine-day sale in London was his wheelchair, a signed copy of his Ph.D. thesis at Cambridge University, a script during his appearance on The Simpsons, and many more.

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The same price of £296,750 was achieved by Hawking's earliest existing motorized wheelchair, which he used extensively during the worldwide book tour for his 1988 best-seller A Brief History of Time.

Famed for his work exploring the origins of the universe, Hawking died in March at the age of 76 after spending most of his life confined to a wheelchair with motor neurone disease.

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The proceeds will be donated to two charities - the Foundation of Stephen Hawking and the Association for the fight against motor neuron disease (Motor Neurone Disease Association).

One of his most famous works was his landmark book a "A Brief History of Time", which sold more than 10 million copies.

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Also on sale were personal copies of the British physicist's papers, such as a copy of his 1974 article, Black Hole Explosions?, in which he predicted that black holes would release blackbody radiation, known as Hawking Radiation. Hawking's dissertation was the single most expensive item.

According to the Guardian, the esteemed physicist's daughter Lucy Hawking said the auction was an opportunity for his admirers to "acquire a memento of our father's extraordinary life in the shape of a small selection of evocative and fascinating items".

Hawking's children hope to preserve his scientific archive for the nation.

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