You Can Buy J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ Chair at Auction

The bidding starts at $45,000.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling with The Tales of Beedle the Bard in 2008.Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling with The Tales of Beedle the Bard in 2008.
Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images.

This is where the magic happened—literally. The chair that J.K. Rowling sat in to write the first two entries in the beloved Harry Potter series, which features hand-painted embellishments by the author herself, is hitting the auction block at Heritage Auctions New York this month.

While Rowling is known the world over for creating Harry Potter, even die-hard fans might not know that the author is also quite artistic. Her original manuscript for the first book was accompanied with her own hand-drawn illustrations. Rowling’s drawings finally made it to prime time with the 2008 publication of the storybook Tales of Beedle the Bard, a short spin-off of the final entry in the original series that was produced in three editions, including seven handmade copies.

In 2002, Rowling hand-painted the chair for Christie’s “Chair-ish a Child” charity auction organized to benefit the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It was purchased by Miles Apthrop $21,000. Since then, the chair has changed hands only once, selling for $29,000 on eBay in 2009.

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.

Among the phrases painted on the chair in shades of gold, green, and rose is “O you may not find me pretty, but don’t judge on what you see,” the opening lines sung in the first Harry Potter book by the grubby-looking Sorting Hat, which places Hogwarts students in Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff. Rowling emblazoned “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair” along the sides and front of the seat, and the word “Gryffindor” on the cross-stretcher below. The chair also features lightning bolts and the author’s signature.

“This is not just a chair. It’s a work of art,” said Heritage pubic relations director Noah Fleisher in a video promoting the upcoming sale. “It’s a piece of pop culture memorabilia, it’s a piece of writing history, and it deserves to be enshrined in somebody’s home, or in a museum.”

Actress Joanna Lumley, Miles Apthorp, and actor Rory Bremner with J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter chair at the Chairish the Child charity auction held at Christie's on September 4, 2002 in London, England.  Miles Apthorp placed the winning bid.<br>Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

Actress Joanna Lumley, Miles Apthorp, and actor Rory Bremner with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter chair at the Chairish the Child charity auction held at Christie’s on September 4, 2002 in London, England. Miles Apthorp placed the winning bid.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

The chair comes with a hand-signed letter from the author attesting to the chair’s authenticity. A stamp across the top indicates the missive was mailed by “owl post”—the preferred form of communication in the wizarding world.

The author explains that the chair was the comfiest of the four mismatched dining room chairs given to her in 1995, and thus became “stationed permanently in front of my typewriter” during the writing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (changed to Sorcerer’s Stone for the US edition) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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

Amazon Japan president Jasper Cheung shows off J.K. Rowling's hand-drawn illustrations in a limited-edition copy of <em>The Tales of Beedle the Bard</em>, won by Amazon in a 2008 Sotheby's auction. Courtesy of Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images.

Amazon Japan president Jasper Cheung shows off J.K. Rowling’s hand-drawn illustrations in a limited-edition copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, won by Amazon in a 2008 Sotheby’s auction. Courtesy of Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images.

Heritage will begin accepting online bids for the chair on March 18, in the “Rare Books Signature” sale, which will run through April 6. The auction house has not released a pre-estimate, but the bidding will open at $45,000.

“Rowling transformed this ordinary piece of furniture into a work of literary art,” said James Gannon, Heritage’s director of rare books, in a statement. “It lives now as a powerful, tangible symbol of her determination and incredible imagination. She started in this chair as an impoverished woman and mother with a dream and rose from it as a giant of modern fiction.”


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