NEW YORK, AFP
NEW YORK–A rare first edition of the John James Audubon book “The Birds of America,” featuring more than 1,000 exquisite drawings by the great naturalist, sold for US$7.9 million Friday at auction in New York. The sale at Christie’s was within the US$7-10 million presale estimate and was the third highest amount ever paid at auction for a printed book, spokeswoman Sung-Hee Park said.
In 2010 Sotheby’s auction house sold another first edition of the book for a record US$11.5 million. The buyer Friday was identified as a private American collector. “The Birds of America” features 435 life-sized color prints of birds in four huge volumes. The 19th century French-born artist and naturalist’s painstakingly accurate works are a prize item at auction and the books are particularly rare. Only 120 copies are known to exist of the original 200 and of these, 107 are with institutions and 13 in private hands. Audubon, who lived from 1785 to 1851, set out to paint every known species of bird in America, shooting the birds first so that he could study them in detail.