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Original Philosopher’s Stone artwork sets record as most expensive Harry Potter item at auction


A watercolour used for the cover of the first Harry Potter book has sold for £1.5m in New York.

Auctioneer Sotheby’s said it was “the most valuable Harry Potter item ever sold at auction”.

Four bidders went head to head for nearly 10 minutes before the unnamed buyer was victorious.

The last time it was sold it went for £85,750 – but that was in 2001 when only four Potter books had been published.

Thomas Taylor’s picture had an estimate of $400,000-$600,000 (£320,420-£480,630) for Wednesday’s auction.

Taylor was only 23 when he was commissioned by Barry Cunningham at publisher Bloomsbury – and he completed the artwork in two days.

He used concentrated watercolours and outlined the illustration with black Karisma pencil.

Now familiar to millions, it shows Harry and his lightning bolt scar next to the Hogwarts Express.

Taylor, who went on to write the children’s series Erie-On-Sea, was also among the first to read JK Rowling’s manuscript for The Philosopher’s Stone.

The £1.5m sale beats the $421,000 (£327,000) paid for a first edition of the same book at a Dallas auction in 2021.

In 2023, a dog-eared first edition of The Philosopher’s Stone – which used to be a library book and was bought for 30p – sold for more than £10,000.


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