When John James Audubon came from France to America he was only 18. He loved birds as a child and when he finally made it on the other side of the pond he decided he wanted to illustrate each an every single bird species of America. So what he did was to hunt down birds and then reproduce their image in natural size on paper. Every single work took him about 60 hours to complete.
But how many birds did he manage to paint? No less than 500 breeds in 1000 illustrations. The entire work was created in 12 whole years. 119 copies of Birds of America were made and 108 of them rest in libraries and museums. All this information should make you understand why one collector was willing to give away about $11.5 million on a copy.
The purchase was made possible by Sotheby’s in London. The 19th century masterpiece thus became the most expensive printed work ever to be sold. And the buyer is happy to have received all the drawings of the volume, even though some were afraid they will be sold separately.