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Sipa USA / Alamy Stock Photo


Wingardium Leviosa your wallets! The wizarding world of Harry Potter continues to hold a powerful cultural spell, and that extends to the realm of collectibles. On Wednesday, June 26, a record-breaking sale solidified the most valuable item associated with the series: the original watercolor illustration for the cover of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published as “Sorcerer’s Stone” in the United States).


The artwork, created by Thomas Taylor, holds a unique place in Harry Potter history. Using Rowling’s descriptions as his guide, Taylor became the first person to visually translate the boy wizard for the public.


Completed in 1997, this illustration established the way the world would forever see Harry Potter, complete with his trademark dark hair, round glasses, and lightning bolt scar.



A post shared by Sotheby's (@sothebys)


The artwork itself offers a richer glimpse into the world Rowling crafted than what appeared on the first edition cover. Platform 9 ¾  peeks into view, hinting at the hidden magic just beyond the veil. Harry’s clothing, distinctly muggle-like and a touch shabby, reflects his origins. An impressive plume of steam and a sprinkling of stars emanating from the Hogwarts Express imbue the scene with a sense of impending adventure.


While the final cover art was more pared down, Taylor’s original illustration—and his first professional commission—stands as a fascinating testament to the creative process.


Sotheby’s auction house in New York facilitated the sale, with the final gavel strike landing at a staggering £1.5 million ($1.9 million USD). This far surpassed the previous record holder, a first edition copy of the book itself, which sold for £337,238 ($421,000 USD) in 2021.


Today, this original artwork transcends its role as a piece of concept art.  For many, it elicits a powerful sense of nostalgia, a glimpse back to the moment when the world of Harry Potter first unfolded.




Images: Sipa USA / Alamy Stock PhotoSotheby’s

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