Rare "Harry Potter" first edition fetches record auction price

Tue May 21, 2013 10:20pm EDT

Fans wait to see actors from the Harry Potter films at the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter near Watford north London March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Fans wait to see actors from the Harry Potter films at the opening of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter near Watford north London March 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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(Reuters) - A unique first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" annotated by author J.K. Rowling has sold for a record 150,000 pounds ($227,421) at a London charity auction, Sotheby's said on Tuesday.

The 1997 book, featuring handwritten notes, 22 original illustrations and a 43-page "second thoughts" commentary by the author, fetched the highest price to date for a printed book by Rowling, Sotheby's said in a statement.

The auction house said the sale room fell silent on Tuesday as buyers engaged in a bidding war for the coveted book, which eventually went to a unidentified buyer bidding over the telephone.

The full sale featured 51 first editions, all unique one-offs featuring annotations and commentary from authors, as part of the "First Editions, Second Thoughts" sale to benefit charity organization English PEN, which promotes freedom of expression.

Other top sellers included Roald Dahl's "Matilda" with new illustrations by Quentin Blake for 30,000 pounds ($45,470), Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day" for 18,000 pounds ($27,278) and Julian Barnes' "Metroland" for 14,000 ($21,216).

The total sale fetched 439,000 pounds ($665,410).

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was the first in a series of seven novels by Rowling, about the adventures of a boy wizard living in a world of "muggles" and magic.

Only 500 first editions of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" exist, making them the rarest of the series, which has become the best-selling book series ever and was adapted into a multibillion-dollar film franchise.

(1 pound = $1.52)

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Beech)

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