A wheelchair used by the late British physicist Stephen Hawking has sold at auction for almost $400,000, with the money going to charity.
The motorized wheelchair, which was used by Hawking after he was paralyzed with motor neuron disease, had been expected to sell for around $20,000 in the online auction organized by Christie’s.
A copy of Hawking’s doctoral thesis, called “Properties of expanding universes” from 1965 sold for $767,000, much more than the estimate of $200,000.
Proceeds from the auction will go to two charities, the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at age 22 and given just a few years to live. However, he lived to the age of 76, dying in March.
Hawking explored the origins of the universe, expanding scientific thinking about black holes and became a well-known figure in pop culture.
A script from one of his appearances on the television series “The Simpsons” was one of the 22 items in the auction, selling for more than $8,000.
Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, said the sale gave “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.”
Other items sold at the auction included an early edition of Hawking’s best-selling book, “A Brief History of Time,” marked with a thumbprint, a collection of his medals and awards, and essays.
In total, the auction raised $1.8 million for charity. Hawking’s family is donating other items from Hawking’s archive to the British government in lieu of paying inheritance tax.