Exclusive Interview: MuggleNet Talks to Jeremy Padawer, Purchaser of Rare “Philosopher’s Stone” at Record-Breaking Price
For many Harry Potter fans, the thought of owning a rare Harry Potter book is little more than a dream, but one California-based Harry Potter lover and toy collector has purchased a first-print, first-edition hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for a record-breaking price. MuggleNet had the opportunity to hold an interview via Skype with Jeremy Padawer, who purchased the copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone earlier this year for an astounding $193,000, ahead of today’s announcement of the purchase.
Padawer, who describes himself as a lifelong collector, has also spent much of his career in the world of toys. Currently, he works as a partner and executive vice president of Jazwares, the global toy licensee for brands such as Pokémon, Roblox, Fortnite, and Cabbage Patch Kids. He has put his passion into collectibles, and that now extends to the most expensive Harry Potter book sold to date.
‘Harry Potter’ holds a special place in my heart, so I was very excited to both collect and invest in the ‘Harry Potter’ brand.
The decision to purchase this particular copy of Philosopher’s Stone was not one that Padawer made hastily, however. This copy, Padawer informed us, was originally sold at auction for $83,000 in 2017 by Heritage Auctions. At that time, it was purchased by Quintessential Rare Books. Padawer then purchased the copy from James Cahill, the owner of Quintessential Rare Books, “about two weeks ago.”
I’ve been watching the ‘Harry Potter’ first-edition first print for many, many years, and I watched it escalate in value. And when it came up on the Heritage Auctions site about three-and-a-half years ago, it had an initial estimate of $20,000.
The fact that the copy then sold for four times that estimate piqued Padawer’s interest. He then began to see how much other copies of the book were being sold for.
My objective wasn’t necessarily to find the most pristine book in the world. My objective was just to have a piece of this wonderful brand and to own a first-print, first-edition hardback book. And as I was doing my due diligence, I noticed that one copy had very recently sold on Rally, which is a fractional share company, for $135,000, and it was written in and the binding was a little rough.
Padawer adds that he noticed that there were books in a similar condition to that one that were being sold in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 just last year. The price at which he purchased his copy, then, stood out to him.
Acknowledging that $193,000 is “a tremendous amount of money,” Padawer tied this back to his philosophy in life.
In life, you have to invest in your passions, even a little bit. In managing my own portfolio, I’m really passionate about content, and I’m really passionate about certain brands – ‘Harry Potter’ being one that was the first book that I read with my wife twenty years ago. Out loud. I don’t know if we ever did that again. We read the whole series together.
In fact, Padawer describes his purchase of this copy of Philosopher’s Stone as coming full circle. It is, he noted, the first book that he has purchased as an investment.
The first job that I attempted to get in the toy industry was on the ‘Harry Potter’ brand in 2000. And I didn’t get the job. And it was a bummer because I really liked the content so much. But it’s a big full-circle moment for me because – 21 years later – I’ve done very well, and I do have the opportunity to choose what to do with the money that I’ve made in toys and collectibles. And so what do I do? I put it right back in things that I love, in toys and collectibles.
Alongside this, Padawer emphasized the importance of following one’s passions, whatever those may be.
I think the world today enables people to follow their passions in a way that you couldn’t do for someone my age. […] The point is that a lot of people my age were not raised around a concept that they could follow their passions and have a very successful life. Whereas, today, between social influencing and Etsy and eBay stores and writing – independent writing, independent art – and everything that’s out there that supports one’s personal passions, you really can become the things that you love in a way that you couldn’t necessarily before.
Padawer noted that he sees himself continuing to invest in Harry Potter memorabilia – whether that is in relation to other books in the series or in relation to other items tied to the franchise. On the other hand, he expressed that he doesn’t want to take away from others’ enjoyment of or access to their passions.
However, I will say that I also recognize that, just because I have the means to do it, [that] doesn’t mean that I necessarily should, because I think there'[re] so many people out there [who] have even more passion than I do, and I really want people to explore their own passions and have the access to these items too.
Similarly, he expressed his belief that Harry Potter memorabilia is going to increase in value over time – not only because of his Philosopher’s Stone purchase but also because of the sentimental value that the generation that has grown up with the franchise attaches to it. He added that he recognizes, too, that not everyone is going to care about the underlying value of their Harry Potter merchandise, “and that’s totally acceptable.”
Anticipating that collectible items related to the Wizarding World franchise will become “the norm” in 10 to 20 years, Padawer stated that he hopes that people will pass that passion on to their children.
I can say with almost certainty that, as of today, the ‘Harry Potter’ generation hasn’t taken over the world yet, but soon you will. And I think that that’s a good thing, and I actually look forward to it. I look forward to the people who are 26 to 36 years old, who are very enlightened and have seen a lot of things – and now with COVID, you’ve seen even more. But give it ten years, and I think that what people do with their recreational time, what they do with their investing, what they do with their passions, I think that this generation knows more, that they can leverage those things and have a happier life.
Padawer provided us with some photos of his copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which you can see below.