Original ‘Harry Potter’ cover art sells for $1.9 million, setting auction record

Damond Isiaka
3 Min Read


The original illustration for the first edition of J.K. Rowling’s 1997 novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” has sold for a record-breaking $1.9 million.

It had been expected to sell for up to $600,000 – the highest presale value ever placed on a Harry Potter-related item, according to auction house Sotheby’s – but the hammer went down at more than three times that amount.

Sotheby’s said it took nearly 10 minutes for the four-way bidding to conclude in New York on Wednesday.

The watercolor cover art was created by author and illustrator Thomas Taylor.

The image features young wizard Harry Potter – with his unmistakable dark, brown hair, round glasses and lightning bolt scar – ready to board the Hogwarts Express train for his first trip to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Taylor’s cover was used for several translated versions of the book, the auction house said. However, it was not used for the US edition of the book, which was released with the title “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

The watercolor illustration of fictional young wizard Harry Potter in front of the Hogwarts Express train sold for $1.9 million on June 26.

When the illustration was first up for auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2001, it sold for around four times its estimated sale price, for a record £85,750 (about $106,000), according to a Sotheby’s press release issued before the sale.

The record for an item related to the book series was previously held by an unsigned first edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, in 2021, according to Sotheby’s.

The first edition of 1997 book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," which Taylor illustrated.

Taylor, just 23 years old at the time, created the original cover image in two days, according to Sotheby’s.

At the time of the book’s publication, Taylor was working in a bookshop, where his colleagues would inform customers that their local bookseller was the illustrator of the high selling novel, Sotheby’s said.

The illustration was auctioned on Wednesday at Sotheby’s in New York along with other works of English and American Literature.

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