Stephen Hawking's Earliest Surviving Motorized Wheelchair is for Sale

24 October, 2018, 14:12 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Documents and files by Stephen Hawking the personal and academic possessions of Stephen Hawking at the auction house Christies in London. AP

The auction will conclude with Professor Hawking's wheelchair, which Venning said allowed him to tour "the world as a successful scientific communicator, and from which his mind voyaged to the outer reaches of space-time, making it literally and figuratively one of the most-traveled wheelchairs in history". Months after the cosmic visionary passed away, the online auction and private sales organization announced its science sale that will also feature papers by prominent scientists Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein.

Hawking suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is usually fatal within a few years.

Remembering renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking in his own words. The auction will be open for bids starting October 31 until November 8.

The scientist was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 22 and was eventually strapped into his wheelchair, unable to walk again. In his case, the disease's progress was a slow one that didn't kill him in two years after being diagnosed, as doctors claimed, but made him dependant on wheelchairs and voice synthesizers for most of his life.

One is included in the sale, with an estimated price of $18,300 to $27,500.


Venning said the wheelchair became a symbol not just of disability but of Hawking's "puckish sense of humour". Proceeds from the wheelchair will be donated to charities. He once ran over Prince Charles' toes - and reportedly joked that he wished he had done the same to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - and appeared in a "Monty Python" skit running down fellow physicist Brian Cox.

Its motor was manufactured by Penny & Giles Drives Technology and the chair comes with one metal footrest and a leather-covered cushion support. The thesis includes a signature and a handwritten note from Hawking confirming that the copy is original.

A bomber jacket Hawking wore in a 2016 documentary, Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places for the video-on-demand streaming service CuriosityStream, has the lowest starting bid, at £100.

"Christie's makes no promise that the property is of satisfactory quality or fit for any objective and sells the property with no warranty except for title", the auction house says.

The sale will 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", said Hawking's daughter Lucy.

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