Late last month, I wrote about an auction for a whole bunch of very cool items once owned by Stephen Hawking. There was a classic bomber jacket, his official script when he made an appearance on The Simpsons, and even some of the medals and awards he won during his incredible science career.
There was also an old wheelchair which the famous thinker used between the late 1980s and mid ’90s. It was a somewhat odd item, if only because it was the only thing on the auction block that related to Hawking’s disability rather than his scientific work, but it still managed to fetch an absolutely astronomical price.
As with all Christie’s auction items, the house attempted to place a price estimate on the wheelchair, settling for an upper range of around 15,000 British pounds, or around US $18,900. That’s a lot of money for a now-antique wheelchair, even if it was used by one of the most famous scientists of all time.
But it turned out to be completely wrong.
The final sale price of the red leather wheelchair skyrocketed past $50,000, $100,000, and even $300,000, finally coming to rest at the GBP equivalent of $387,117. Holy wow.
What’s amazing about this isn’t just the price, but the fact that the auction was essentially for charity, with proceeds going to the Stephen Hawking Foundation as well as the Motor Neurone Disease Association, both of which were causes that Hawking cared deeply about.
It’s a remarkable price, but the wheelchair wasn’t the highest priced item on the block. The collection of Hawking’s medals and awards fetched an identical price, while an original copy of Hawking’s thesis from late 1965 fetched a whopping 584,750 pounds, or around $762,820.