News | June 27, 2024

Illustration for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Sold for $1.9M


Thomas Taylor's Harry Potter illustration

Thomas Taylor's original watercolour illustration for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold for $1.9 million at Sotheby’s to become the most valuable Harry Potter item ever sold at auction. The illustration was chased by four bidders on the phone and online for nearly 10 minutes before selling to applause. 

Taylor’s work, featured on the covers of the first edition of the novel in 1997, had a high estimate of $600,000 and was sold as part of The Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko, a significant library of 19th and 20th century English and American literature.

The illustration was first offered at auction back in 2001 at Sotheby’s London, and was estimated to fetch between £20,000 and £25,000, at the time the highest estimate placed on any Harry Potter-related material. The illustration realized a record-breaking £85,750.

A copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K Rowling sold in a charity auction for £1.95 million in 2007 at Sotheby's. This was produced specifically for the sale at auction to raise money for the author's Lumos charity. The previous record for any item of Harry Potter was set in 2021 when an unsigned first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

Another highlight at the auction was a copy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four which sold for $960,000, breaking the record for any autograph manuscript by the author. The manuscript is signed twice by Conan Doyle and contains edits to 'Americanize' the text for publication in the United States. It was offered alongside a collection of autograph letters between Doyle and J. M. Stoddart, the American businessman and editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, who commissioned The Sign of Four. The letters chronicle the progress of the book, including discussion on the title as well as Doyle’s happiness with the printing, in particular the illustration.