World's most expensive book sells for £7.3 million ($11.5 million)
John James Audubon's Birds of America at Sotheby's in London before its sale for a world record £7.3m. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
A copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America tonight (December 6, 2010) became the most expensive book ever sold when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's for £7.3m. The auction was a rare chance to own one of the best preserved editions of the 19th century masterpiece, with its 435 hand-coloured illustrations, seen as a key volume on US natural history.
It was sold to an anonymous collector bidding by telephone, the auction house said. Each individual picture is so valuable there have been some fears the volume could be broken up and sold as 435 separate works of art. Experts believe that unlikely: the tome is probably more valuable intact.
And collectors hold Audobon in such reverence that the notion of ripping apart a perfect copy would be akin to sacrilege.