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Stephen Hawking's wheelchair & thesis fetch over $1 million at auction

Over 400 bidders from 30 countries registered for the online auction of 22 items from Dr. Stephen Hawking's estate, demonstrating just how deeply the late physicist is admired and respected the world over.

The auction that started on 31 October ended on Thursday with all the items sold at US$1.8 million, seven times more than had been predicted.

Among the items sold were an old red wheelchair that the physicist and author had used. The wheelchair was used by Dr. Hawking in the late 1980s and early '90s. He stopped using it when he could no longer steer it with his hands. The buyer, whose identity is a mystery, bought it for about $400,000, more than 15 times the pre-sale estimate made by auction house Christie's.

Another bidder spent over $760,000 on his signed 1965 Ph.D. thesis, Properties of Expanding Universes,, about the origins of time and space. When the thesis was made available online by Cambridge University in October 2017, it proved so popular that it crashed the University's website. This is one of only five original copies of his thesis.

The results of this remarkable sale demonstrate the enormous admiration and affection with which Stephen Hawking was viewed around the world," read a statement by Christie's, which conducted the auction.

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

Some of those items are complex scientific papers, a black jacket, the script from an episode of The Simpsons on which he appeared and a 1988 copy of his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, marked with his thumbprint as a signature.

In a statement, Dr Lucy Hawking, his daughter said,

We are 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. We will be auctioning one of our father's historic wheelchairs, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation. - Dr. Lucy Hawking, Chair, Stephen Hawking Foundation

Dr. Hawking, who gradually lost control over his muscles because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, died in March this year at the age of 76.

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