A rare copy of the “most expensive book in the world” surpassed pre-sale estimates to fetch more than £7 million at auction.
Sotheby’s said the price of £7,321,250, including buyer’s premium, paid for John James Audubon’s Birds Of America was a record for any printed book at auction.
The illustrated book by the renowned ornithologist, naturalist and painter (1785-1851), a landmark of natural history, was expected to fetch between £4 million and £6 million.
It was bought by Michael Tollemache, a London dealer, a spokesman for Sotheby’s said.
Mr Tollemache was bidding in the room at the London sale and described the work afterwards as “priceless”.
Sotheby’s said the hammer price for the book was £6.5 million.
Also sold in the auction was a first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, the First Folio, which dates from 1623 and fetched £1,497,250 including buyer’s premium.
It was bought by US dealer Stephan Loewentheil, he added.
Both books formed part of the sale, Magnificent Books, Manuscripts and Drawings from the Collection of Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh, the Property of the Trustees of the 2nd Baron Hesketh’s Will Trust.
Auction house book specialist David Goldthorpe said before the sale: “Unlike other libraries which specifically focus on, for instance, literature, history or science, the 50 lots coming from this magnificent collection are an example of what is known as ‘high spot collecting’ – when a collector seeks out the very best across a range of fields.”