LONDON (Reuters) - A hand-written, illustrated book of wizardry by Harry Potter author JK Rowling fetched a record 1.95 million pounds ($3.98 million) at auction in London on Thursday, nearly 40 times its expected price.
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” had been expected to go for up to 50,000 pounds at the Sotheby’s sale.
The buyer was from London dealer Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, the auctioneer said.
“There was applause when it reached one million and more when it finished,” a Sotheby’s spokesman said. “Bidding lasted about 10 minutes with four or five bidders in the room and the same number on the phones.”
The price is the highest ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by JK Rowling, and an auction record for a children’s book.
All proceeds from the sale will go to The Children’s Voice, a charity Rowling co-founded in 2005 to help vulnerable children across Europe.
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” are mentioned in the last Potter book as having been left to Harry’s friend Hermione by their teacher Albus Dumbledore.
Of the five stories in the book only one, “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” is told in the Potter novels, appearing in the final Potter book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
“‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ is really a distillation of the themes found in the Harry Potter books, and writing it has been the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a world I loved and lived in for 17 years,” Rowling wrote in the sale catalogue.
There are just seven copies of the Tales, bound in brown leather and decorated in silver and moonstones. Six have been given to people closely connected to the Harry Potter books.
The seventh was auctioned on Thursday.
Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Tim Pearce