Stephen Hawking's thesis, wheelchair sell for more than $1.5M

A motorized wheelchair used by the late British physicist Stephen Hawking sold at auction on Thursday for almost £300,000 (more than $515,000 Cdn) while a dissertation raised nearly twice that at a sale to raise money for charity.

Astrophysicist famed for work exploring origins of the universe died in March

A copy of A Brief History of Time, signed with a thumbprint of Stephen Hawking, was on display at Christie's auction house during a press preview ahead of the sale. The money raised will go to the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A motorized wheelchair used by the late British physicist Stephen Hawking sold at auction on Thursday for almost £300,000 (more than $515,000 Cdn) while a dissertation raised nearly twice that at a sale to raise money for charity.

Famed for his work exploring the origins of the universe, Hawking died in March at the age of 76 after spending most of his life confined to a wheelchair by motor neurone disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Some of his belongings including essays, medals, awards and a copy of his book A Brief History of Time signed with a thumbprint were sold online on Thursday alongside letters and manuscripts belonging to Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein.

Hawking's 117-page dissertation "Properties of expanding universes" from 1965 sold for £584,750 (more than $1 million Cdn) well ahead of the estimate.

Auction house Christie's ran the nine-day online auction called "On the Shoulders of Giants" to raise money for the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

In a speech delivered posthumously, Hawking urged young people to 'try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist.' (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

It also offered fans of the physicist known for his electronic voice synthesizer a chance to buy some of his possessions.

"Stephen Hawking was a huge personality worldwide. He had this amazing ability to connect with people," Thomas Venning, head of the Books and Manuscripts department at auction house Christie's London, told Reuters ahead of the event.