J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Chair Sells for Nearly $400,000 at Auction

The 'Harry Potter' author hand-painted and signed the seat.

The chair on which British author J.K. Rowling sat to write the first two volumes of her best-selling
The chair on which British author J.K. Rowling sat to write the first two volumes of her best-selling "Harry Potter" series sold at auction in New York on April 6, 2016 for $394,000.The modest, 1930s-era oak chair was part of a mismatched set of four that Rowling was given for free when she was a single mother living in subsidized housing in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Photo: William Edwards/AFP.

The chair that author J.K. Rowling used to write Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the first two books in the beloved series, sold for a hefty $394,000 at Heritage Auctions New York on April 6.

While the chair is undoubtedly a unique piece of Harry Potter memorabilia, the price tag is all the more impressive given its past auction history. It was originally sold for $21,000 in 2002 to benefit at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children at Christie’s “Chair-ish a Child” charity auction, and went for $29,000 on eBay in 2009.

The 1930s-era oak chair, Rowling explained in a letter written for the 2002 auction, was the most comfortable of a mismatched set of four she was given back in 1995, when she was a struggling single mother living in subsidized housing.

The chair where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, signed and painted by the author. Photo: courtesy Heritage Auctions.

The chair where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, signed and painted by the author.
Photo: courtesy Heritage Auctions.

“My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t,” wrote Rowling.

On the occasion of the 2002 sale, she painted the chair with a number of phrases such as “O you may not find me pretty, but don’t judge on what you see,” an iconic line from the first book sung by the shabby-looking Sorting Hat, and the explanatory “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair.”

J.K. Rowling's hand-painted message on the chair. Photo: Joseph Schroeder, courtesy Heritage Auctions.

J.K. Rowling’s hand-painted message on the chair.
Photo: Joseph Schroeder, courtesy Heritage Auctions.

In a statement, the auction house called the chair “a small piece of history connected to the mythology of the Wizarding World and one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature.”

Though the buyer has not been revealed, the seller, Gerald Gray of the UK, told the BBC that “I plan to donate 10 percent to J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, because that’s what she did in the first place.”


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.

Share