© Martin Bureau, AFP | An original watercolour illustration from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s « The Little Prince » to be auctioned off in Paris on December 9


An original watercolour illustration from the Little Prince is auctioned in Paris this week.

The signed sketch, which appeared on page 17 of the original 1943 version of the story, is expected to fetch between 400,000 and 500,000 euros ($500,000-600,000), according to auction house Artcurial.

The illustration shows the Turkish astronomer who discovered Asteroid B612, the Little Prince’s planet, pointing at a blackboard of equations and mathematical diagrams.

By far Saint-Exupéry’s most famous work, « The Little Prince » has been translated into more than 270 languages and has touched countless readers around the world.

Artcurial said it is the most widely read book in the world after the Bible.

The book is a series of parables in which a boy prince recounts his adventures among the stars to a downed pilot on Earth. It was published in English and French in New York in 1943.

Himself a pilot, Saint-Exupéry died mysteriously at the age of 44 while on a reconnaissance mission during World War II in 1944. He did not live to see the book’s publication in France following the end of the war in 1946.

The watercolour sketch, measuring 21.3 by 23.9 centimetres, is to go under the hammer on December 9.