The JK Rowling effect? At auction it turned into a fiasco. According to estimates on the eve, a series of rare first editions of the books of the Harry Potter saga should have grossed between 100,000 and 150,000 pounds (about 120,000-175,000 euros). In the end, however, at Christie’s in London no buyer showed up and the lot was withdrawn. The result was all the more disappointing as part of the proceeds had to be donated to the foundation created by the same British writer JK Rowling.
It was “the most beautiful bookshop in the world“, Livraria Lello, based in Porto, Portugal, who put up for sale the seven volumes of the most famous of the magical worlds, published between 1997 and 2007. The lot included a first edition hardcover of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, characterized by the typo of “Philosopher’s” on the back cover as “Philospher’s”.
The fiasco at the London auction is even more surprising when you consider how sought after early English editions of Harry Potter are. Last December, another copy of this type sold for a record price of $ 471,000, or approximately € 420,000, making the Harry Potter book one of the most expensive in the history of modern literature sales. The few copies that have appeared in other auctions continue to sell for staggering figures, with two more sold in 2021 for over $ 138,000.
There are only 500 copies of the book in this first edition published by Bloomsbury and most of them were originally intended for public libraries. A disappointment for JK Rowling’s charity, the Lumos Foundation, and consequently for the writer herself. Lumos, named after the Harry Potter light spell, was created by Rowling in 2005 to support families affected by poverty, conflict and discrimination.
Last March Rowling, through her foundation, launched an appeal to collect donations to help Ukrainian children housed in the country’s orphanages. The foundation raised funds to provide food, hygiene and medical kits to people affected by the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Additionally, Lumos supports families in Kenya, Moldova, Haiti, Jordan, Panama and Colombia.
The set of these rare first editions is owned by the renowned Livraria Lello of Porto, often counted among the most beautiful bookstores in the world thanks to its neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau interiors, including the famous crimson spiral staircase. In recent years, since the entry of the Pedro Pinto family, which acquired the majority of the share capital in 2015, Livraria Lello has lived a second life, investing in the enhancement of the book and in a vast cultural program. This year Gemma has opened its doors, a special and exclusive room inside Livraria Lello, entirely dedicated to rare, ancient and first editions books.