Harry Potter Illustration Poised to Shatter Auction Records at Sotheby's

Sotheby's will auction off the original watercolor illustration of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Thomas Taylor on June 26, estimated to fetch $400,000 to $600,000. The iconic artwork, used for the book's first edition in 1997, could become the most valuable Harry Potter book memorabilia ever sold.

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Harry Potter Illustration Poised to Shatter Auction Records at Sotheby's

Harry Potter Illustration Poised to Shatter Auction Records at Sotheby's

On June 26, Sotheby's in New York will make history as it auctions off the original watercolor illustration of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by Thomas Taylor. The iconic artwork, which graced the cover of the first edition of J.K. Rowling's debut novel in 1997, is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000, potentially becoming the most valuable piece of Harry Potter book memorabilia ever sold.

The illustration features a young Harry Potter, with his distinctive 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. The artwork was used for several translated versions of the book but not for the US edition, which was released with the title "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

The current auction record for Harry Potter memorabilia was set in 2021 when Heritage Auctions sold an unsigned edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for $421,000. The illustration was last offered at auction in 2001 at Sotheby's, where it fetched £85,750 (approximately $107,000). Richard Austin, Sotheby's global head of books and manuscripts, emphasized the significance of Taylor's work, saying, "It is hard to convey the impact of this illustration by Thomas Taylor, created in 1997, for the then unknown novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone... Taylor's charming work has become a vital addition to what is now the most beloved children's book series in history, perfectly capturing the enchanting and nostalgic universe of Harry Potter."

In the 1990s, Taylor, a recent art school graduate, received his first professional commission to create cover art for the novel, which was then an unknown work by author J.K. Rowling. Taylor, who was only 23 years old at the time, created the original cover image in just two days. "It is exciting to see the painting that marks the very start of my career, decades later and as bright as ever!" said Taylor.

The illustration will be offered as part of the collection of oral surgeon Rodney P. Swantko, who passed away in 2022. Sotheby's will also auction an original manuscript of J.K. Rowling's 2007 The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. This copy was previously owned by Barry Cunningham, the English publisher who signed Rowling and published Philosopher's Stone.

Both the manuscript and Taylor's illustration will be available to view at Sotheby's New York between June 21 and June 25, offering fans a chance to see the iconic artwork up close before the historic auction on June 26. The sale of this rare and significant illustration marks an exciting moment for the Harry Potter community and the world of literary collectibles, as it showcases the enduring popularity and cultural impact of the beloved series.

Key Takeaways

  • Sotheby's to auction original Harry Potter cover art on June 26.
  • Estimated value: $400,000 - $600,000, potentially a record.
  • Illustration by Thomas Taylor, used for 1st edition in 1997.
  • Current record for Harry Potter memorabilia: $421,000 (2021).
  • Viewing available at Sotheby's NY from June 21-25.