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'Harry Potter' first edition sells for smashing $643,000

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A first edition of "Harry Potter" sold for US$471,000 (S$643,000) in the United States on Thursday (Dec 9) in what the auctioneers said was a world record price for a 2Oth century work of fiction.

The hardback 1997 British edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," with a colour illustration on the cover, was described by Heritage Auctions as "magical, incredibly bright and so very near pristine".

The book was published in the United States as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

The Dallas-based auction house said only 500 copies with the specific binding were printed. The final price was more than six times the pre-sale estimate of US$70,000.

Previous auction prices for Harry Potter first editions have ranged from about US$110,000 to US$138,000.

"Not only is it the most expensive Harry Potter book ever sold, it's the most expensive commercially published 20th-century work of fiction ever sold," Heritage Auctions Executive Vice-President Joe Maddalena said in a statement.

The book was sold by an American collector and the name of the buyer was not released.

British author J.K. Rowling went on to write six more books about the adventures of the orphaned boy wizard that have sold some 500 million copies worldwide in 80 languages, according to US publisher Scholastic.

The books were turned into eight films which made US$7.8 billion at the global box office.

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