A wooden chair used by J.K. Rowling when she wrote her first two Harry Potter books has sold for $394,000 at a New York auction – more than eight times its opening bid.
The chair, on which the British novelist painted the words “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair,” came from a dining set that Rowling was given when she was a struggling single mother living in Scotland.
It was put on the block by businessman Gerald Gray, who bought the chair in 2009, and auctioned in New York by Heritage Auctions on Wednesday. The buyer wished to remain anonymous, Heritage said.
James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions, said the chair itself had little value but its literary association made it prized.
“She (Rowling) said at the time that it was something you would pick up at a junk shop,” he said. “But it’s really just the fact that she took the time to decorate it and the fact she actually wrote the books on it that is important.”
Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books about a boy wizard and his friends have become a worldwide phenomenon selling more than 450 million copies. The books also spawned eight blockbuster movies and theme park attractions in Florida and California.
A few years after the publication in 2000 of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Rowling donated the chair to an auction benefiting a British children’s charity. Gray, a native of England and CEO of the vehicle speed control company AutoKontrol USA, bought it in 2009 for about $29,000 at another auction.
Gray said he hoped the chair would now go on display in a museum or one of the Harry Potter attractions. He also said he would donate 10 percent of Wednesday’s auction profits to Rowling’s children’s charity Lumos.