Bird book sells for £7.3m at auction

A RARE copy of the "most expensive book in the world" surpassed pre-sale estimates to fetch more than £7 million at auction yesterday.

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 4m and 6m.

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It was bought by Michael Tollemache, a London dealer, a spokesman for Sotheby's said.

Mr Tollemache described the work afterwards as "priceless". Sotheby's said the hammer price for the book was 6.5m.

A first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, the First Folio, which dates from 1623, fetched 1,497,250 yesterday, the spokesman said.