Hawking's thesis and wheelchair sold for $1.6m

LONDON • A motorised wheelchair used by the late British physicist Stephen Hawking was sold at auction for £296,750, while a thesis fetched nearly twice that amount at a sale to raise money for charity. The two items raised £881,500 (S$1.6 million).

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

Some of his belongings, including essays, medals, awards and a copy of his book, A Brief History Of Time, signed with a thumbprint, were sold online on Thursday alongside letters and manuscripts belonging to Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein.

Prof Hawking's 117-page dissertation, titled "Properties Of Expanding Universes", sold for £584,750. His medals and awards sold for £296,750.

Auction house Christie's ran the nine-day online auction to raise money for the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. It also offered fans of the late physicist, known for his electronic voice synthesiser, a chance to buy some of his possessions.

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).
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). PHOTO: REUTERS

"Stephen Hawking was a huge personality worldwide. He had this amazing ability to connect with people," said Mr Thomas Venning, head of the Books and Manuscripts department at Christie's London.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Hawking's thesis and wheelchair sold for $1.6m'. Print Edition | Subscribe