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J.K. Rowling's chair auctioned for $394,000

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 9:29 PM EDT
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The chair that author J.K. Rowling used while writing the first two Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, sold $394,000.

The chair sold for eight times it’s opening bid at a public auction of rare books Wednesday in New York. The winning bidder asked to remain anonymous.

“I was quite surprised [J.K. Rowling] would sell the chair; she originally sold it for a children’s charity,” said owner Gerald Gray, a native of England. “Following in the tradition that J.K. Rowling started with this chair, I plan to donate 10% of the hammer price achieved to Lumos, Rowlings’s children’s’ charity. I truly believe it should be on display somewhere,” said Gray, who attended the auction at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. “The United States has such amazing theme parks devoted to ‘Harry Pottery’ so I hope it ends up on display where fans may see it.”

Rowling donated the chair to an auction in 2002 called Chair-ish a Child to help the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Rather than selling it in its original form, Rowling used gold, rose, and green paints to transform the chair into a piece of memorabilia. It sold for $21,000. It was again auctioned in 2009 for roughly $29,000 to Gray.

The chair comes from a set that Rowling was given for her government housing flat when she was a young, single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rowling took the most comfortable of the chairs and used it as her main writing chair, authoring the first two of what would become one of the most influential series of all time: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released in America as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

On the stiles and splats, in gold and rose colors, she painted: “You may not / find me pretty / but don't judge / on what you see.”

Rowling signed the backrest in the gold and rose paints. Then along the apron of the seat she painted: “I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair.”

“Gryffindor” is painted on the cross stretcher under the seat.