Hawking wheelchair auction produces charity windfall

Hawking wheelchair auction produces charity windfall

Also on sale were personal copies of the British physicist's papers, such as a copy of his 1974 article, Black Hole Explosions?, in which he predicted that black holes would release blackbody radiation, known as Hawking Radiation.

Hawking passed away at the age of 76 back on March 14, 2018 after suffering from a motor neurone disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for over 55 years.

The red motorised wheelchair once used by Hawking went under the stamp for $391.7 million while his Cambridge thesis titled "Properties of Expanding Universes" was sold for $7.6 million.

The wheelchair raised $387,480 (£296,750), nearly 20 times more than pre-auction estimates of up to $19,500 (£15,000).

In total the auction raised £1,824,375.

Medals and awards sold for £296,750, compared with an estimate of £15,000, while the red motorized wheelchair sold for £296,750, also compared with an estimate of £15,000.

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"Hawking initially resisted the idea of using a wheelchair in the late 1960s; by the late 1970s, he was using motorized models like the present example, and was even renowned for being a rather wild driver", said Christie's. Hawking's items all combined sold for about $1,306,275 at the auction.

A collection of Hawking's medals and awards fetched almost £300,000 ($392,000) more-again well above the expected price.

Perhaps more surprising, among some of Hawking's possessions was a script from an episode of "The Simpsons", which raised $8,160 (£6,250). Letters and manuscripts belonged to Newton, Einstein and Darwin were also put on the sale.

Proceeds from the wheelchair sale will go to benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association; proceeds from Prof Hawking's other items will go to his estate.

The physicist's daughter, Lucy, said Christie's had been helping the family & "manage our beloved father's unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings".

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