A rare copy of John James Audubon's 'Birds of America' made a new world record for a printed book at auction Tuesday, selling for 7.3 million pounds in London.

The four-volume book was subject to competitive bidding on the phones and in Sotheby's New Bond Street galleries, and sold for 7,321,250 pounds (11,542,683 dollars, 8,647,111 euros), the auction house said in a statement.

Originally estimated to sell for between four and six million pounds, the book was bought by London dealer Michael Tollemache. The proud new owner described the work as "priceless".

Known as Audubon's Elephant due to its size (39in by 26in), large enough to contain life-size illustrations of the birds, it owes its value to its rarity and the quality of the 435 images in its pages. It was completed in 1858 having taken the author 12 years to produce, and only 119 copies still exist.

The previous world record for any printed book sold at auction was 5,565,110 pounds, or 8,802,500 dollars, for a different copy of Audubon's 'Birds of America' sold in New York in March 2000.


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