LONDON – A wheelchair used by physicisthas sold at auction for almost 300,000 pounds, or $ 393,000, while a copy of his doctoral thesis fetched almost 585,000 pounds ($ 767,000), Christie's auctioned Thursday.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease – raised 296,750 pounds in a Christie's online auction. That's nearly 20 times more than the pre-sale estimate of up to 15,000 pounds.
Proceeds from the chair's sale will go to two charities, the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neuron Disease Association.
Hawking's 1965 Cambridge University thesis, "Properties of Expanding Universes," sold for 584,750 pounds, more than three times its pre-sale estimate, in the online auction.
Hawking transformed our notion of space and time, and the nature of black holes – and did it all while confined to a wheelchair and deprived of speech. Born in the University of Oxford in 1942, and a less-than-stellar student at first, Hawking was just 21 when he was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disease and had just a few years to live.
Hawking instead lived for many more decades, this past March at age 76. He expanded his scientific thinking about black holes and the origins of the universe. He became a celebrity in 1988 with the publication of his "A Brief History of Time" – one of the best-selling books on science of all time.
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He even went on to star on "The Simpsons." A script from one of his appearances on the animated TV show sold for 6,250 pounds in the sale of 22 Hawking items, while a collection of his medals and awards raised 296,750 pounds.
Hawking's daughter Lucy said "the admirers of his work have the chance to acquire a memento of our father's extraordinary life in the shape of a small selection of evocative and fascinating items."
Hawking's children hope to preserve their scientific archives for the nation. Christie's is handling the negotiations on the subject of British taxation.
Frank Augstein / AP