Technology

Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair And Other Possessions To Be Auctioned

Stephen Hawking's Wheelchair
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Christies announced that it will be listing 22 items which belonged to renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who passed away earlier this year. Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, which he relied on during the early days of his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is among the items to be listed for auction.

The auction in which Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair and other possessions will be listed is part of a much larger event called “On the Shoulders of Giants: Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking.” The auction also includes papers and other scientific publications by other great scientists, which will be displayed in London starting on Oct. 30. Bids will be accepted until Nov. 8. Hawking’s possessions are expected to draw the most attention from private collectors and museums.

Aside from Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, which goes back to 1988, the auction also features a collection of medals and awards dating between 1975 and 1999. It will also include a copy of A Brief History of Time bearing a signed thumbprint and a script from one of Hawking’s four appearances on The Simpsons.

The event also includes framed copies of the invitation Hawking made for A Reception For Time Travellers, a party he hosted in 2009 for anyone who was able to navigate the fourth dimension. The invitation was not shown publicly until after the party was held, ensuring that only people who could travel through time would show up. Of course, no one did.

The piece with the greatest demand is expected to be a copy of Hawking’s 1965 PhD thesis “Properties of Expanding Universes.” There are only five known copies of the thesis in existence, and this one is particularly interesting because it was signed by him and features his hand-drawn equation.

The PhD thesis was finalized after the physicist’s ALS diagnosis. At that time he had to rely on his wife, who typed up the document and added all the handwritten mathematical equations. According to the Associated Press, the thesis is expected to be sold for $130,000 to $200,000.

Hopefully most of Hawking’s possessions will go to museums or other institutions where they’ll be shown publicly. It’s unlikely that he would have liked his lifelong work to be in the study of a private collector. Some of the pieces, including Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, will likely be given to charities such as the Stephen Hawking Foundation, which supports research into cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics, or the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which supports research and cares for those who live with ALS.