It was 4 in the morning in Tokyo, and the man (from now, we will call him the man, since he asked us to remain anonymous, though you can search for his name online) received a phone call from London. He had won the auction, but his reply was “Can you call me back in 1 hour?” He could not sleep after that.
The man is the possessor of a unique item in Harry Potter history: the 800-words prequel to the Harry Potter books (written by J.K. Rowling herself) that was auctioned in 2008 at a charity auction. Rowling wrote the story on an A5 card for the auction for bookseller Waterstone’s, in aid of two reading charities, Dyslexia Action and English Pen.
He showered and got ready for work – then it sank: I had won something which only happens once in a lifetime. It took just a few hours for him to understand that he owns a handwritten prequel that belongs to the Harry Potter world, a short story about James Potter and Sirius Black. Later that day, he went to the bank and sent the money.
The bank manager was shocked, [he] shook my hand and congratulated me. I asked him to make sure that would not leak out. He assured me it would not.
The price? £25,000. But the money did not matter. He bought it because “it would be very cool to own something J.K. Rowling has written” (though he never expected to actually win it), and “because the money went to a good cause.”
And if the money had mattered, he could have already sold it. He received an offer from an eccentric Japanese buyer who wanted it for his granddaughter: he offered 9 millions dollars, but the man declined. There was a rumor of a 30 million dollars offer from a Korean billionaire, but that was just that, a rumor. The same goes with gossip that the short manuscript is lost in Tokyo and the man does not have it anymore.
That is, in fact, impossible. Because the manuscript never went to Tokyo. The prequel never left London.
I asked my mother and sister and her husband to collect it privately, which they did. It sits in the bank and it is insured.
And as the manuscript never left its city, the man never saw it or touched it. But no one did. “I have looked after it like a child for 8 years. Never let it get in to someone else hands.” But his ultimate goal is not to sell it for profit. “I think I will ultimately sell it as the bigger goal is to help others and the money raised will give kids opportunities they would not normally have.” He even thought of doing a raffle among all the Harry Potter fans – and donate the profits. Or lend it to a museum, if the entrance ticket is for a good cause.
I don’t want any money from it myself but happy to use it to create money to help the ones in need.
The man is one of a kind – he owns the Harry Potter prequel. But if you have enough luck, you could be the next one to own it. “I promise to do something with the Harry Potter Prequel that will make all Harry Potter fans proud”, he says. And we like to imagine that the raffle that he mentioned to us before will become a reality… because dreaming is free.