How much would you pay for a piece of Harry Potter history? One buyer recently shelled out £278,000 for a chair that author J.K. Rowling sat in while writing the first two Harry Potter books. That’s more than $390,000 – quite a bit for a chair, even one with such a magical history!
The chair was one of four mismatched chairs that Rowling acquired for free when she was living in obscurity in Edinburgh, the Guardian reports. It was the most comfortable of the four, so Rowling sat in it when she penned Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and its first sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. After publishing those novels and the rest of the Harry Potter series, Rowling wasn’t so obscure anymore – and her chair was suddenly a hot commodity.
Rowling herself auctioned the chair off for charity (or should we say “chair-ity?”) back in 2002. It’s since come up for auction twice more, including this most recent time. Before the initial auction, Rowling decorated the chair with a message about its significance. “You may not/find me pretty/but don’t judge/on what you see,” Rowling wrote, her message broken up across the various flat spaces on the chair. Another message on the chair read “I wrote/Harry Potter/while sitting/on this chair.”
This time around, the chair came with a signed note from Rowling (“from owl post,” the auction cheekily promised), guaranteeing the item’s authenticity. Here’s the complete text of that letter:
I was given four mismatched dining room chairs in 1995 and this was the comfiest one, which is why it ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter, supporting me while I typed out Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t.
– JK Rowling
£278,000 is quite a tidy sum for a note and a chair, and it exceeded the expectations of seller Gerald Gray. Gray, who originally bought the chair on Ebay for his daughter, told the Guardian that he planned to donate 10% of the payment to JK Rowling’s charity Lumos “because that’s what she did” when she auctioned the chair off the first time. As for who paid big bucks for the chair, nobody knows – the buyer has chosen to remain anonymous.