harry potter books

Rare J.K. Rowling Book Nabs $470,000 at Auction

Sotheby's Preview A Rare Copy Of JK Rowling's
The rare copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold at Sotheby’s auction. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

There are a handful of people in the world who deserve to share in J.K. Rowling’s successes, and one of them is Barry Cunningham, the original publisher of Harry Potter. Legendarily, Rowling had a hard time finding a publishing house that would commit to the wizarding world created by a never-before-published single mother until Cunningham came along. Because of his passionate investment, Harry Potter as we know it came to be.

Today, in London, that tale was magnified: A very rare handwritten copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard — an offshoot book of the Potterverse that also includes Rowling’s illustrations — sold for a staggering £370,000 (about $470,000). The copy belonged to Cunningham, who sold the jewel-and-silver-skull-encrusted book, just one of seven unique copies, at auction with Rowling’s permission. A portion of the auction proceeds will benefit charity. And despite the many accoutrements the book boasts, its inscription may be where most of its value lies: “To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell … THANK YOU.”