World's Most Expensive Book Sells For $11.5 Million
One of the most monumental printed books ever produced, John James Audubon's Birds of America, sold at Sotheby's London this week for £7,321,250 ($11,542,683) setting a new world record for any printed book ever sold at auction. There are only around 100 copies of this book which contains 435 hand-colored prints and is more than three feet tall. A different copy sold for $8.8 million in 2000.
Four collectors bid on the phones and in the room, driving the price above the estimates of $6.3 million to $9.5 million. The book was purchased by London dealer Michael Tollemache, who was bidding in the room and who described the work after the sale as "priceless." The Audubon was part of the sale of Magnificent Books, Manuscripts and Drawings from the Collection of Frederick, 2nd Lord Hesketh that brought in a total of £14,971,950 ($23,604,776 ) sailing over the high estimate of approximately $18.6 million and setting a record as the highest price ever achieved for a single-session sale of Books and Manuscripts ever held in London.
The sale also featured a first folio of Shakespeare's plays dating back to 1623, one of the most important books in English Literature. It sold for £1,497,250, right around the high estimate of £1.5 million and was purchased by Stephan Loewentheil. Forty letters relating to the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots, including four letters signed by Queen Elizabeth I, sold for £349,250 ($550,628) (estimated at £150,000-200,000), a record for a group of Elizabethan manuscripts at auction.