Painting Used For Cover Of The First Harry Potter Book Sells For $1.9 Million

The original watercolor on the cover of the first book in the “Harry Potter” series sold for nearly four times its previous record, going for $1.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday. This makes it the most expensive piece of “Harry Potter” ephemera ever sold.

The work was painted by Thomas Taylor when he was 23 years old. In 1997, it was featured on the first-edition covers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published outside the UK as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). To commemorate the book’s 25-year anniversary, Bloomsbury Publishing created a commemorative reprint of the famed book with Taylor’s illustration on the cover.

The painting surpassed its $400,000–$600,000 pre-auction estimate, and has now increased in value by more than 1,650 percent since it was first auctioned in 2001. At that time, when Sotheby’s London auctioned the piece, it exceeded expectations, fetching a $107,000 (£85,750) price tag.

Sotheby’s has not identified the person who bought the watercolor this time.

In addition to the watercolor, a handwritten manuscript of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of fictional fairy tales referenced in Harry Potter, is also in the sale. The manuscript is expected to garner between $250,000 and $350,000. Bidding for the item comes to a close on Friday.

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