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Stephen Hawking personal effects fetch £1.8m at auction

Stephen Hawking book Image copyright Christie’s

Personal effects of Stephen Hawking, including a signed copy of his 1965 PhD thesis, have raised more than £1.8m at auction.

A total of 22 items owned by the Cambridge physicist, who died in March, were auctioned by Christie’s.

The copy of his thesis titled Properties of Expanding Universes – one of only five – was sold for £584,750

An early wheelchair raised £296,750 for charity and a script for his appearance on The Simpsons sold for £6,250.

Christie’s said before the nine-day online auction that the items represented the “ultimate triumph of scientific brilliance over adversity”.

The history-making PhD thesis is signed twice by Prof Hawking and was inscribed by the scientist in the year he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

It was expected to fetch £150,000 but interest from across the world saw it reach almost four times that amount.

Image copyright Christie’s

Image copyright BBC/Richard Ansett

The lots included medals and awards which sold for a total of £296,750, while Prof Hawking’s own scientific papers and library of the works of other famous scientists such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, went for sums in the tens of thousands of pounds.

Prof Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, which he signed with a thumbprint in 1988, sold for £68,750, way above the £3,000 guide price.

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

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”.

Image copyright Christie’s

Image copyright Christie’s

Proceeds from the sale of the red leather wheelchair will go to the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Sophie Hopkins, specialist in manuscripts and archives at Christie’s, said much of the collection was “incredibly iconic”.


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