How Much for This Legendary Artifact?

Stephen Hawking’s personal effects were auctioned off, and his wheel chair went for a staggering $393,000. USA Today reports:

Nearly two dozen personal items belonging to the late legendary physicist Stephen Hawking will be for sale at auction beginning on Halloween day.

Christie’s, a global auctioneer headquartered in London, is selling several of Hawking’s papers, including his dissertation, thesis on the origins of the universe and his spectrum of wormholes. Hawking’s notes and equations are visible in some of the pieces, including a line from his October 1965 Cambridge University doctorate thesis stating “This dissertation is my original work,” followed by a “S.W. Hawking” signature. This is one of five known copies of Hawking’s 117-page thesis, and its estimated value is between $126,000 and $189,000.

A motorized red and maroon leather wheelchair Hawking used from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s is also for sale. Hawking used a wheelchair during his time at Cambridge and for most of his life, after he was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. According to Christie’s, the item is the earliest surviving example of a wheelchair used by Hawking, who used it until he was unable to use his hands. Its estimated value is between $12,600 and $18,900. Money raised from the sale of the wheelchair will be offered to benefit the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, according to Christie’s.

Hawking’s well-known 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” signed with his thumbprint is also available to buyers. The book first brought modern astrophysics into popular understanding for many and turned Hawking into an icon.

One wonders what will be done with the wheelchair, and whether it will be exposed at a collection accessible to the public.