Rare Audubon ‘Birds of America’ sells for US$9.6m in New York

A Sotheby’s employee turns a page of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, at Sotheby’s in London December 6, 2010. — Reuters pic
A Sotheby’s employee turns a page of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, at Sotheby’s in London December 6, 2010. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, June 15 — A first edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, one of the most celebrated books of natural history, sold for US$9.65 million (RM38.4 million) at auction in New York yesterday, Christie’s said.

The richly illustrated 19th century book, featuring more than 400 hand-coloured illustrations of 1,037 life-size birds, was one of just 13 complete sets thought to be remaining in private hands.

Christie’s described the set as “among the most superlative copies in private hands of the finest colour-plate book ever produced.”

It said the price, paid by a buyer who wished to remain anonymous, was the second highest sum paid for the book at auction. Another of the complete sets went for US$10.27 million in 2010.

Audubon’s The Birds of America was first published as a series in sections between 1827 and 1838 and represented his years-long mission to find and paint all the known species of birds in North America.

The book that was sold yesterday was owned by US businessman and naturist Carl W. Knobloch Jr, who died in 2016. Proceeds from the sale will benefit conservation of plants, animals and natural habitats through the work of the Knobloch Family Foundation. — Reuters

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