Stephen Hawking's wheelchair and medals are up for auction

Pablo Tucker
October 24, 2018

London-based auction house Christie's has announced an online sale of 22 items from the late British physicist Stephen Hawking including one of his wheelchairs and complex scientific papers.

Christie's, a global auctioneer headquartered in London, is selling several of Hawking's papers, including his dissertation, thesis on the origins of the universe and his spectrum of wormholes.

Medals, awards, scientific papers and the script for one of Prof Hawking's appearances on The Simpsons will also be going under the hammer as part of the sale, entitled On the Shoulders of Giants.

The online auction will start on October 31 and run through November 8.


"It has been a huge privilege for Christie's to work on this selection of objects from the estate of one of the most brilliant minds of the last half-century", Thomas Venning, head of Christies' books and manuscripts department, said in a press release announcing the auction.

"Stephen Hawking's rather mischievous attitude to piloting his wheelchair became legendary", according to the lot description."Having run over Prince Charles' toes during a meeting in 1977, he is said to have regretted not doing the same to the then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher".

He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at 21 in 1963, and was given two years to live.

The disease left Hawking paralyzed and using a wheelchair for mobility. The money made during the auction will go toward the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation, which supports research related to both physics and the disease. The wheelchair, estimated to be worth between $13,000 and $19,500, is included in the sale.


Venning said Hawking "very much thought of himself as a scientist first and a popular communicator second", but accepted and even enjoyed his celebrity status.

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. This is one of five known copies of Hawking's 117-page thesis, and its estimated value is between $126,000 and $189,000.

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

The sale will give "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", said Hawking's daughter Lucy.


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