Stephen Hawking’s thesis, wheelchair among other prized possessions up for auction

Stephen Hawking’s thesis, wheelchair among other prized possessions up for auction

The motorized wheelchair that carried Hawking out of the 1980s and into his most high-profile period also is on the auction block, with Christie's reportedly expecting it to fetch between $13,000 and $20,000.

Estimated prices range from £100 ($130) for a limited-edition print of Stephen Hawking's Time Travellers Invitation to £150,000 ($195,360) for a photocopy typescript of his PhD thesis (signed and inscribed) from 1965.

"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.

"You can see each advance as he produced it and introduced it to the scientific community", Venning said.

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

Daughter Lucy Hawking said that "through the auction, fans of the scientist will get the chance to become owners of relics, reminiscent of the extraordinary life of a theoretical physicist".

Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is usually fatal within a few years. "He gave up his studies for a time because he was so despondent".

The disease eventually left Hawking nearly completely paralyzed.

A poster advertising Time Travellers meeting hosted by Stephen Hawking is one of the personal and academic possessions of Stephen Hawking at the auction house Christies in London Friday Oct. 19 2018. The online auction announced Monday Oct. 22 2018

His illness left him wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication.

Proceeds from the sale of the wheelchair, which has a pre-sale estimate of £10,000 to £15,000, will benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

He appeared several times on animated comedy show The Simpsons and kept a figurine of himself from the show in his office.

The thesis, one of the five original copies, is signed in Hawking's own handwriting, with the statement, "This dissertation is my original work".

Daughter Lucy Hawking has noted that, through the auction, fans of the scientist will get the chance to become owners of the relics, reminding about the odd life of a theoretical physicist. Prof Hawking's scientific archive will be offered in its entirety, as well as the contents of his office.

Christie's is handling negotiations to hand it over to British authorities in lieu of inheritance tax.

The items - part of a science sale that includes papers by Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein - will be on display in London for several days from October 30.

Twenty-two lots will be up for auction between October 31 and November 8 in an online Christie's auction known as "On the Shoulders of Giants".

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