Artwork becomes Harry Potter’s most expensive item ever sold

An original watercolor artwork has set a new record as the most valuable Harry Potter item ever sold, fetching $1.9 million (£1.5 million) at a US auction. The artwork for the first edition of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ sold for more than three times its expected price. Initially auctioned in 2001 before the book series was completed, it sold for £85,750 (about $108,000 today).

“This is really the first visualization of Harry and the wizarding world,” said Kalika Sands from Sotheby’s auction house. The artwork had an estimated pre-sale value of $400,000 to $600,000, the highest for a Harry Potter-related work. The four-way bidding lasted nearly 10 minutes, and the buyer’s identity remains unknown.

Thomas Taylor, the artist, was only 23 in 1997 when he created the iconic image of Harry Potter standing before the Hogwarts Express. Using concentrated watercolors with black pencil outlines, he completed it in two days. Taylor, who grew up in Wales, was among the first to read the manuscript of the original Harry Potter book, which became a massive success, leading to movies and theme parks.

Ms. Sands noted that the difference in auction prices between 2001, when only four of the seven books had been published, and now reflects the growing 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 flourished, with new generations coming to appreciate Harry and his journey,” she said.

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