John James Audubon was an American ornithologist and painter. His detailed, precise paintings of plants and animals were prized in his own lifetime, and his colossal book The Birds of America (1827-1838) is both rare and valuable today. It contains 435 life-sized bird prints, all coloured by hand, and there are only 120 copies known in existence. In December 2010, a first edition of The Birds of America sold at Sotheby’s, London, for £7.3m ($11.5m), a record for any printed book sold at auction.
July saw 10 of the most expensive works of art sold at auction for a total of $130.8 million.