Stephen Hawking's wheelchair up for sale at online auction

Late physicist’s PhD thesis and script from The Simpsons among other items to go under hammer

Adam Forrest
Monday 22 October 2018 14:47 BST
Stephen Hawking in quotes

A wheelchair used by Stephen Hawking will be up for sale at an online auction of some of the late physicist’s most prized possessions.

The Christie’s sale will also include the renowned scientist’s doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe and a script from one of his appearances on The Simpsons.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 22, the disease eventually left Professor Hawking almost completely paralysed. He died in March at the age of 76.

One of the high-tech wheelchairs he used before his death has an estimated auction price of £10,000 to £15,000.

Christie’s auctioneer Thomas Venning said the wheelchair became a symbol not just of disability but of Professor Hawking’s “puckish sense of humour”.

He once ran over Prince Charles’ toes and reportedly joked that he wished he had done the same to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. He also appeared in a Monty Python skit running down fellow physicist Brian Cox with his wheelchair.

The auction includes several of Professor Hawking’s scientific papers and one of only five existing copies of his 1965 Cambridge University PhD thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes”, which carries an estimated price of £100,000 to £150,000.

Mr Venning said the papers “trace the development of his thought — this brilliant, electrifying intelligence”.

He added: “You can see each advance as he produced it and introduced it to the scientific community.”

The 22 items will be open for online bids between 31 October and 8 November. Proceeds from its sale will go to two charities, the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Professor Hawking’s daughter Lucy said the sale gave “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”.

Earlier this month a recording made by Professor Hawking warning of the dangers posed by Brexit and Donald Trump was broadcast at the launch for his final book.

In the message from “beyond the grave” he cited the election of Mr Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union as part of “a global revolt against experts, and that includes scientists”.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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