Selection of Stephen Hawking’s personal items to be sold at auction
The items include one of his wheelchairs, which will be sold to benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
A copy of a thesis by Professor Stephen Hawking is expected to sell for as much as £150,000 at auction.
The work is among personal items from the eminent cosmologist’s estate that are part of an online sale at Christie’s called On the Shoulders of Giants.
His most important papers, including his Black Hole Explosions of 1974, a selection of his medals and awards, a copy of his best-selling book A Brief History Of Time signed with a thumbprint, a bomber jacket, and the script for one of his appearances on The Simpsons are all part of the sale.
The items include one of Prof Hawking’s wheelchairs, which will be sold to benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
A highlight is Prof Hawking’s signed thesis typescript which is being estimated at £100,000-150,000.
When his PhD thesis was made available online by the University of Cambridge in October 2017, it proved so popular that it crashed the university’s website.
The auction house said the thesis is signed in Prof Hawking’s distinctively shaky handwriting, with the statement: “This dissertation is my original work. S.W. Hawking.”
Prof Hawking’s daughter, Lucy Hawking, said: “We are very pleased to have the assistance of Christie’s to help us with the important matter of managing our beloved father’s archives and his unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings, chronicling his life and work.
“We hope to be able to offer our father’s archive to the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu process as we feel it is a huge part of his legacy but also of the history of science in this country.
“We are also giving 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.”
The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme, administered by Arts Council England, enables taxpayers to pay inheritance tax by transferring important works of art and other important heritage objects into public ownership.
Thomas Venning, head of the books and manuscripts department at Christie’s London, said: “The sale concludes with Professor Hawking’s wheelchair, in which he both toured the world as a successful scientific communicator, and from which his mind voyaged to the outer reaches of space-time, making it literally and figuratively one of the most-travelled wheelchairs in history.”
Prof Hawking died at his Cambridge home on March 14, aged 76.
At the age of just 22, he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease and given just a few years to live.
His illness left him wheelchair-bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication.
However, he defied all odds, going on to become a towering figure in the world of physics, a bestselling author – particularly with his book A Brief History Of Time – and a father of three and TV celebrity.