Harry Potter Cover Art Expected To Sell At $600,000

Thomas Taylor, an illustrator who created a Harry Potter cover art for its first edition book, finished the masterpiece in only two days.

The Harry Potter saga became an enchanting wonder for generations of readers worldwide due to its riveting plot about a young wizard who narrowly escaped death when he was a baby. This year, a piece of art from the literary treasure expects to set a record. Thomas Taylor’s masterpiece, the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone cover art, will be available for auction next month at Sotheby’s. Sales are gauged to reach between $400,000 to $600,000.

With its upcoming sale anticipated to reach such value, it became a testament to Taylor’s artistic ability to draw admirers in a magical realm where imagination knows no bounds. 

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Highest pre-sale estimate for a Harry Potter cover art

Taylor, who is an illustrator and an author, did the cover art when he was just 23, according to Sotheby’s. It was his first professional commission to visualize the “as-yet-unknown” character, Harry Potter. 

Bloomsbury’s Barry Cunningham delegated the task to create then-unpublished author Jo Rowling’s book cover art. Taylor was among the first to read Rowling’s manuscript and experience the wizarding world. 

CNN mentioned in a report that Taylor also only did the original cover art in only two days, citing Sotheby’s. His work depicted young Harry with his trademark dark hair, round glasses, and lightning bolt scar, about to board the Hogwarts Express, which took him to the world of wizardry. 

The series soon became a worldwide hit as it sold more than 500 million copies worldwide with translations in 80 languages. The auction house commented that the art had the “highest pre-sale estimate ever placed on an item of any Harry Potter-related work.”

Taylor’s cover art appeared in the first edition of the book. Only 500 copies of the particular version sold as Rowling was previously an unknown author. Heritage Auctions disclosed that a dozen publishers rejected her debut book so Bloomsbury released limited copies. They bound most of it for public libraries.

An old friend “reappeared”

Taylor, through an Instagram post, became sentimental as Sotheby’s announced the cover art’s inclusion in an auction lot. He expressed that an “old friend” has reappeared. This is a term Rowling used in a subplot of her last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as another character Hermione Granger narrated a part of The Tales Of Beedle The Bard.

“The Tales Of Beedle The Bard” told the story of three brothers who all obtained a magical item and each taught a lesson. 

Taylor revealed he originally sold the cover art through the auction house back in 2001. “At the time this seemed like an optimum moment to sell,” his post mentioned. “With the new film just out, I thought the books would all be given movie tie-in covers, and my artwork quickly forgotten. That didn’t happen of course, but there was no way I would have kept the artwork till today — I would certainly have sold it long ago.”

He added the painting went to a private collector in the United States. CNN divulged it sold for a record £85,750, or about $106,000. 

The illustrator mused he was amazed to see the cover art resurface after all these years. He expected the colors to have faded but the image appears carefully stowed away and “is still bright.” 

“If only I had aged so well,” he jokingly remarked. “Perhaps you will buy it? With an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, all I know is I won’t be bidding myself.”

Thomas Taylor’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” cover art expects to sell up to $600,000
Thomas Taylor’s “Harry Potter” cover art expects to sell up to $600,000/Photo from Sotheby’s via @thomskagram

Previous record for a Harry Potter book

Aside from the art work selling for $106,000 in 2001, Rowling’s book set a previous record in 2021. Heritage Auctions sold a first edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for $471,000. 

The auction house remarked it was “the highest price ever paid for the boy wizard’s debut in any form.”

The first edition “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” sold for $471,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2021
The first edition “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” sold for $471,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2021/Photo from Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Joe Maddalena said it was also the most expensive, commercially-published 20th century fiction book ever sold. “This result shows the power of the combination of literature and cinema,” he explained. 

A reel from Sotheby’s revealed four things that make a Harry Potter copy valuable for at least $100,000. First, it had to be one of the 500 first edition copies. Secondly, 300 copies went to libraries while 200 came to bookstores; apparently, the bookstore copies are more valuable than the former. Third, the book must come from the first edition and first printing. Lastly, mistakes make a book prized for this edition, and as seen in the video, a word was printed twice, making it a worthwhile collectible. 

Taylor’s cover art will join the sale lot of The Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko. The live auction will commence on June 26.

Banner photo from Sotheby’s via @thomskagram.

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