Original Harry Potter illustration sells for record $1.9M at auction

Original Harry Potter illustration sells for record $1.9M at auction

Artwork for 1st edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for more than 3 times its expected price

By Merve Berker

An original watercolor illustration for the first edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone fetched a record $1.9 million at a sale by Sotheby’s auction house in New York on Wednesday, becoming the most valuable Harry Potter item ever sold.

The art work for the first book in the series was expected to sell for up to $600,000, which Sotheby’s said is the "highest pre-sale estimate ever placed on an item of any Harry Potter-related work.” But the hammer went down at more than three times that amount.

The cover art by Thomas Taylor, who was among the manuscript's first readers, was first sold at an auction in July 2001 at Sotheby’s London for £85,750. The iconic image shows the budding wizard, with his dark hair, round glasses and lightning bolt scar, in front of the Hogwarts Express train.

"This is really the first visualization of Harry and the wizarding world," Kalika Sands from Sotheby's auction house said of the drawing.

The artwork's intricate details and vibrant colors, which gave Rowling's text a visual identity, now evokes a sense of nostalgia among countless fans worldwide.

The Harry Potter series, a seven-volume set of books published between 1997 and 2007, is rich with themes such as friendship, loyalty, courage, intelligence, love, perseverance, sacrifice, justice, and self-acceptance.

The bonds between Harry, Hermione, and Ron exemplify true friendship and unwavering loyalty, while characters such as Dumbledore embody intelligence and wisdom.

The series also highlights the power of love, the importance of standing up for what is right, and the wonders of the magical universe, creating an immersive and enduring story that imparts valuable life lessons.

Besides the books, the Harry Potter film series brought the magical world to life with stellar performances by actors including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, whose portrayals of the beloved characters captivated audiences worldwide.

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