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Harry Potter cover art fetches a record price at auction in New York

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Expelliarmus to all previous records! An original watercolor illustration for the cover of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in J.K. Rowling’s international hit series, has become the most expensive piece of Potter paraphernalia ever sold at auction.

The illustration, which featured on the debut edition of the 1997 novel, was sold for $1.9 million by Sotheby’s New York after a four-way bidding battle that lasted almost 10 minutes.

The artist, Thomas Taylor, was only 23 years old when he painted the iconic image of Harry Potter on Platform 9¾, awaiting his first ride on the Hogwarts Express.

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Thomas Taylor’s original 1997 watercolor illustration for the cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which achieved a record-breaking sale price at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on June 26, 2024, is held by a Sotheby’s worker.

Sotheby’s


Taylor completed the painting in just two days using concentrated watercolors on cold-pressed watercolor paper with black pencil, depicting the bespectacled boy hero of the wizarding world.

A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone previously held the record for expensive Potter memorabilia. It sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas in 2021.

Taylor’s illustration sold for almost four-times the expected amount of between $400,000 and $600,000.

Sotheby’s said it was the “highest pre-sale estimate ever placed on an item of any Harry Potter-related work.”

“This is really the first visualization of Harry Potter and the wizarding world,” said Kalika Sands from Sotheby’s.

She said the final auction price demonstrated the enduring popularity of Rowling’s creation.

“In the intervening decades, it’s been extraordinary to see not just the conclusion of Harry’s story, but also how the Harry Potter franchise has taken off, and in that time, new generations have come to appreciate Harry and his journey as well,” she said.

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