Some of Stephen Hawking’s most cherished and significant possessions will be headed to Christie’s in London later this month. Items include a copy of his PhD thesis, a script for the TV series “The Simpsons” and his earliest surviving wheelchair.
Hawking was not only a brilliant physicist, but also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and a prolific author, who passed away last March at the age of 76. He lived a life with a debilitating disease, in which doctors believed would kill him in his 20s. He even sold more than 10 million copies of his landmark book “A Brief History of Time.”
CNN believes one of five existing copies of Hawking’s 1965 Cambridge University Ph.D. thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes,” will be the most demanded artifact present at Christie’s, which holds and estimated price of £100,000 to £150,000 ($130,000 to $195,000). The artifact even depicts a confirmation from Hawking that is handwritten, stating it is his original work.
A few months prior to Hawking’s death, the University of Cambridge (which is his alma mater) displayed the thesis on its open access repository. Requests began to fly in to view the research shorty after it went live, resulting in the website crashing with nearly 60,000 downloads in less than 24 hours.
Hawking also suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is typically fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed when he was 21, and doctors predicted he would only have a few years to live. The disease unfortunately left him paralyzed, requiring a wheelchair for mobility. He was limited in his movements, only capable of moving a few fingers on one hand and dependent on technology for almost everything, including bathing, dressing, eating and speech.
The very first wheelchair he used will be another key item going on sale, for an estimated price of £10,000 and £15,000. “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.
“By the late 1980s he was at the height of his fame, and given his extensive travels to conferences and public events, as well as the scope of his intellectual explorations of space-time, this is arguably both literally and metaphorically the most-traveled wheelchair in history. ”
Christie’s reports that the proceeds from the wheelchair lot will be going towards the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, while other personal belongings of Hawkings’ going to auction will include a bomber jacket and a collection of his medals.
One item that stuck out more than others was a script from an episode of The Simpsons. “Stephen Hawking made four appearances in The Simpsons over a period of 10 years, something he joked made him more famous than anything he had done in science,” said Christie’s on its website. ” A small plastic model of his yellow Simpsons incarnation had pride of place in his house.” This particular episode was aired on September 26, 2010.
Last but not least, a copy of “A Brief History of Time” signed with his thumb, will hit the auction block, expected to sell between £2,000 and £3,000.”We are very pleased to have the assistance of Christie’s to help us with the important matter of managing our beloved father’s archives and his unique and precious collection of personal and professional belongings, chronicling his life and work,” said his daughter Lucy Hawking in a statement. She said the auction would give “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.”
All pieces will be on display in London, and officially for sale Oct. 31 through Nov. 8.