The artwork is now the most expensive Harry Potter item ever sold.

Comment on the photo, Thomas Taylor was just 23 years old when he painted the iconic illustration in 1997

  • author, Catherine Armstrong
  • Role, BBC News

An original watercolor painting has become the most expensive Harry Potter item ever sold, selling for $1.9 million (£1.5 million) at a US auction.

The artwork for the first edition of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has sold for more than three times its expected price.

It was first sold at auction in 2001, before the book series was completed, for £85,750 (about $108,000 at current exchange rates).

“This is actually the first visual representation of Harry and the Wizarding World,” said Kalika Sands of Sotheby’s.

The artwork was expected to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000, which Sotheby’s said was the highest pre-sale estimate for a Harry Potter-related work.

It took nearly 10 minutes for the four-way bidding to end on Wednesday. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.

The artist behind the illustration, Thomas Taylor, was just 23 years old in 1997 when he created the iconic image of Harry Potter standing in front of the Hogwarts Express – the train that would lead the bespectacled young wizard into the Wizarding World.

It was done using concentrated watercolors with black pencil lines and took two days to complete.

Sands said the difference in auction price between 2001, when only four of the seven books in the series were published, now reflects the popularity of Rowling’s creations.

“In the intervening decades, it has been extraordinary to see not only the end of Harry’s story, but also how the Harry Potter series took off, and in that time, new generations have come to appreciate Harry and his journey as well.”

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