Some of the most prized possessions of late British physicist Stephen Hawking, including a copy of his Ph.D thesis and an early wheelchair, have sold for much more than expected at an auction by Christie's in London.
Medals and awards sold for £296,750, compared with an estimate of £15,000, while the red motorized wheelchair sold for £296,750, also compared with an estimate of £15,000. It was sold for almost twenty times what it was expected to snatch at auction, and its sale will benefit both the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The auction also included other items owned by Hawking such as a copy of his book "A Brief History of Time" with Hawking's fingerprints, his Alpha Industries bomber jacket, a collection of medals and awards.
Personal effects of Stephen Hawking, including a signed copy of his 1965 PhD thesis, have raised more than £1.8m at auction.
The collection highlighted the brilliance, determination and sense of humour of Hawking, who died in March aged 76 after a lifetime spent trying to unlock the secrets of the universe.
A total of 22 items were sold during the online auction. Letters and manuscripts belonged to Newton, Einstein and Darwin were also put on the sale.
Professor 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".
"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.
In total, the auction, which included 52 lots, raised more than 1.8 million pounds (roughly $2.35 million, AU$3.24 million).
According to The Guardian, Hawking's children plan to donate the rest of their father's estate to the nation as part of the "acceptance in lieu" scheme, which allows one to transfer objects of artistic or historical value into public ownership to pay down inheritance tax.