Original "Harry Potter" Cover Art Heads to Auction, Where It May Break Records

Artnews_ Break out your wands (and wallets), Potter fans.

Slated to hit the auction block at Sotheby’s New York this summer is the original watercolor that graced the cover of the first book in the “Harry Potter” series. The painting is anticipated to become the most expensive item related to the franchise ever sold at auction.

The work was painted by Thomas Taylor when he was 23 years old. In 1997, it was featured on the first-edition covers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published abroad as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). To commemorate the book’s 25-year anniversary, Bloomsbury Publishing created a commemorative reprint of the famed book with Taylor’s illustration on the cover.

When the work is auctioned June 26, it is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000, making it the highest presale estimate ever given to a piece of “Harry Potter” ephemera, according to Sotheby’s.

This is not the first time the watercolor has appeared on the block. In 2001 Sotheby’s London auctioned the piece, where it surpassed records with a $107,000 (£85,750) price tag.

The new Sotheby’s sale featuring the watercolor, “The Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko,” includes a works by literary figures such as Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Vladimir Nabokov.

In addition to the watercolor, a handwritten manuscript of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of fictional fairy tales referenced in Harry Potter, will also be in the sale, where it is expected to garner between $250,000 and $350,000.