Bidding frenzy for Potter clue
LONDON, England -- A hand-written "teaser card" by author J.K. Rowling containing just 93 words of the eagerly awaited fifth Harry Potter adventure has sold at auction for £28,680 ($45,231).
The price, paid by an unnamed, private American collector at the auction on Thursday, was almost six times the reserve and all the proceeds will go to charity.
Rowling wrote the 93 words on a card, giving a glimpse into the possible plot of the long-awaited fifth instalment of the saga, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
The full wording will only be shown to the card's new owner but London auction house Sotheby's revealed it included the words "thirty-eight chapters... might change... longest volume... Ron... broom... sacked... house- elf... new... teacher... dies... sorry."
Written in blue ink, the teaser was sold "sight unseen" -- which means the new owner could choose to keep the remaining words a secret.
A Harry Potter Internet fan group, which organised a worldwide whip-round to try to secure the sneak peek of the plot -- but which was hopelessly outbid when it offered just over £15,000 ($23,656) -- hopes the owner will reveal all.
Melissa Anelli, the managing editor of the fan site -- www.the-leaky-cauldron.org -- had promised to put the words on the Web if the cyber bid was successful.
Anelli told the Press Association: "Millions of fans have waited for two-and-a-half years for the next book. We can only hope that the person who got it shares it.
"We had £15,000 but the bidding shot past us in under a minute. It was wild."
A Sotheby's spokeswoman said: "The atmosphere in the auction was electric. There's no other way to describe it."
Potter fans have grown increasingly curious about the plot of the book as Rowling has declined to publicly select a release date for "Order of the Phoenix."
The fourth adventure, the mammoth and dark "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," appeared in July 2000.
Rowling has repeatedly denied she is suffering from writer's block and said there was never any intention of publishing book five in 2001.
She has said: "There's a lot of book done. That's all I want to say, because if I give it a date and then I pass it everyone will be upset.
"I know a lot of Harry Potter fans will say, 'Just give it to us.' But I'm a perfectionist and I want a bit more of a tweak."
Proceeds from the auction will go to Book Aid International, a charity that supports local initiatives by providing books for readers of all ages in 40 of the poorest countries in the world.
Book Aid International director Sara Harrity told the UK Press Association: "It's a wonderful Christmas present for readers in some of the world's poorest countries.
"The auction proceeds will allow us to provide around 5,000 books for children and adults around the world."
Gebrenegus Berhane, of the Eritrean Ministry of Education, said: "This is a really special gift for readers in Eritrea.
"I have children of my own so I understand how a good book can light up a child's world. It is vital that Eritrean children grow up loving books, so they will keep on reading throughout their lives."