It has emerged that plans are underway to donate part of Stephen Hawking’s Archive to the nation to raise money for the family to pay millions it owes in inheritance tax. After his death on 14th March this year, Professor Hawking left an estate that is valued at around £15 million. Now the family wants Christie’s, the auctioneers, to determine the value of his archive so as to donate a larger portion of it to the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu process, which allows valuable cultural works to be given as donations instead of death duties since 2011.
Part of the archive is likely to be donated to the public museums and the auctioneers have already submitted the archive to the Arts Council. An announcement of the items involved in the donation will be made soon.
Professor Hawking’s seminal work on black holes from 1974 is part of the 22 items that belonged to him. One of his wheelchairs will be sold on a public online auction according to the auctioneers. Other items include his medals and awards, a bomber jacket, copy of his best-selling ‘A Brief History of Time’ (1988) that is signed and thumb printed, and a script of one of his roles in the Simpsons.
Speaking about their reasons to want to donate part of the astrophysicist’s archive to the nation, the daughter Lucy hawking said that the family feels that even though the archive is part of his legacy that should be preserved, it is also part of the country’s history of science. The family also wants to give the admirers of the professor’s work a chance to acquire some mementos from the Hawking’s extraordinary life. Anyone can select a small item from the many fascinating and evocative items in the archive.
One of the professor’s historic wheelchairs will be auctioned and the proceeds will be donated to Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation. In addition to that, Prof Hawking’s thesis typescript is expected to generate up to £150,000 and the price could go up to £200,000.