A quick news flash from Sotheby’s press department:
in a crowded saleroom in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries in London, a magnificent, rare, copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America sold for £7,321,250, establishing a new world record price for any printed book sold at auction. The 4-volume, “double elephant folio” work was estimated at £4,000,000-6,000,000*, but fiery enthusiasm from collectors bidding on the phones and in the room drove the price rapidly beyond pre-sale expectations. The book was bought by London dealer Michael Tollemache, who was bidding in the room and who described the work after the sale as “priceless”. (The previous record for any printed book sold at auction was $8,802,500 / £5,565,110 – for a different copy of Audubon’s Birds of America, sold in New York in March 2000.)
Previously The Wall Street Journal had speculated that a dealer would be the buyer of the volume but they had another dealer, Graham Arader in mind:
At the London sale next month, many eyes will be on Mr. Arader, the book dealer and a likely bidder. A bullish man with clear-framed glasses, Mr. Arader has ruffled some rare-book dealers with his brash style, but his name is also the first many mention when it comes to the sale of “Birds of America.” One of the country’s foremost Audubon dealers, he has sold thousands of Audubon prints in the past. […] This set’s vibrant color quality convinced him to jump in. He says that he’s ready to spend $8 million to $10 million, in hopes of selling the set at least a decade later at what he estimates would be a 400% return.
Stalking a Masterpiece (Wall Street Journal)