Rare First Edition Harry Potter Art Sells for Millions

Ever wonder who drew the original Harry Potter cover art? Or what he’s doing today? Read on to find out more about Thomas Taylor and his million-dollar art sale.

Book Culture Book News
A starry night sky background with a red Harry Potter book on it next to drawings of a gavel and money.

Fans have been known to shell out thousands of dollars for Harry Potter memorabilia, especially when it’s labeled as an “original”, or a “first edition”. There’s something about the magic (pun intended, of course) of the humble beginnings of one of the most popular book series of all time, being able to imagine Harry Potter before Daniel Radcliffe, before Warner Bros, and before sequels and spin-offs and websites and merchandise. For me, it’s somewhat akin to seeing pictures of your childhood, nostalgic for a time when things were simpler.

The Money Keeps Rolling In

Three kids, a girl on the left and two boys hugging on the right, are in front of what looks like part of an old building and they are wearing Hogwarts Robes. The robes are black with an orange and yellow crest on it.
IMAGE VIA WARNER BROS MOVIE WORLD

The magic of originality was especially evident when a first edition of the Philosopher’s Stone cover art sold for millions of dollars at an auction, being the most expensive piece of Harry Potter paraphernalia sold to date. The artist, Thomas Taylor, was just 23 when he painted it, and had absolutely no idea the book would become so big. “People forget that at the time, J. K. Rowling was as unknown as I was,” he said.

Who is Thomas Taylor?

After the series took off, Taylor wasn’t called back for more illustrations, which he was ultimately fine with. He got to take interviews, sign book covers, and even, on one unbelievable night, answer a pub trivia question about himself — the quiz master didn’t even know who he was!

Taylor does occasionally wonder if the illustration had anything to do with his further career as a published children’s author, whether or not that was what propelled him into success. And honestly? He doesn’t think about it much; he is grateful for the opportunity he was given at such a young age and is happy he still gets to do what he loves.

“[The Harry Potter series gave] 9 to 12-year-olds precisely what they needed: a bit of enchantment and a refuge from pressure, anxiety, and homework. These days I aspire to conjure the same enchantment with my own writing.”

Thomas Taylor, 2024
A book cover for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". It has a purple and orange night sky with stars, cartoon drawings of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid, and a castle in the background.
IMAGE VIA BLOOMSBURY.COM

Current Success

These days, Thomas Taylor has published a series of “Eerie-on-Sea mysteries,” loosely based on his experience with the creepy strangeness of his seaside town during the empty winter season. A five-book series, these novels center on two friends, Herbert and Violet, and their incredible adventures through the mysterious town of Eerie-on-Sea.

A book cover with a cave on it, that has glowing water and a sea monster with tentacles. It has green and purple shining stalactites and two kids hiding behind rocks. It is in a drawing style, and features the title "Mermedusa" at the top with the author "Thomas Taylor" written at the bottom.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

Oh, and just for comparison, a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold for $421,000 at an auction in 2021. Thomas Taylor’s art? Sold for $1.9 million.


Want more Harry Potter content? Check out our article featuring our favorite moments from The Half-Blood Prince!

For more fantasy reads for kids and middle grades, take a look at our bookshelf.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / ELIZABETH BEAVER