Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair And Scientific Papers Up For Auction

Scientist Stephen Hawking Visits China
China Photos / Getty Images

Auction house Christie’s announced on Monday that some items owned by the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking will be sold in an online auction. The announcement was made just days after the scientist’s final paper was published.

The Associated Press reported that the upcoming auction will feature 22 items, which include some of Hawking’s many awards, a script from “The Simpsons,” and a wheelchair used by the famous scientist.

The auction will also include 12 of Hawking’s most important published papers including his 1965 Cambridge University doctoral thesis, the “Properties of Expanding Universes.”

Hawking was already diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, when he wrote the thesis but he was still able to sign the document. In shaky handwriting, he wrote the following words: “This dissertation is my original work, S.W. Hawking.”

Christie’s said that the document is one of only five known copies of the thesis and has a pre-sale estimate valued between $126,000 and $189,000.

The other scientific papers include the “Fundamental Breakdown of Physics in Gravitational Collapse” and the “Spectrum of Wormholes.”

Thomas Venning, the head of books and manuscripts of the auction house, said that the papers trace the development of Hawking’s thought.

The auction, known as ‘On the Shoulders of Giants,” will be conducted online between Oct. 31 and Nov. 8.

Stephen hawking during a press conference on the breakthrough life in the universe initiatives.
  Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images for Breakthrough Initiatives

It will conclude with the sale of one of Hawking’s wheelchairs. According to Christie’s, Hawking initially did not like the idea of using the wheelchair but it eventually proved helpful in his travels and speaking engagements.

“By the late 1980s he was at the height of his fame, and given his extensive travels to conferences and public events, as well as the scope of his intellectual explorations of space-time, this is arguably both literally and metaphorically the most-traveled wheelchair in history,” Venning said in a statement.

Hawking used the motorized red and maroon leather wheelchair from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s. Christie’s said that the item is the earliest surviving example of a wheelchair used by Hawking who used it until he could no longer use his hands.

The wheelchair has been estimated to value between $13,000 to $19,500. The proceeds of the iconic chair will benefit the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation.

In a statement, Hawking’s daughter Lucy said that the auction will give the admirers of her father’s work the chance to acquire mementos of his extraordinary life.

Hawking died on March 14, 2018. He was 76 years old.