It was sold to an anonymous collector bidding by telephone, the auction house said. Each individual picture is so valuable there have been some fears the volume could be broken up and sold as 435 separate works of art. Experts believe that unlikely: the tome is probably more valuable intact.
"Audubon's Birds holds a special place in the rare book market for several reasons," said Heather O'Donnell, a specialist with Bauman Rare Books in New York. "The book is a major original contribution to the study of natural history in the New World.
"It's also one of the most visually stunning books in the history of print: The scale of the images, the originality of each composition, the brilliance of the hand coloring."
The Birds of America plates were printed in black and white and hand-coloured afterwards, and made from engravings of Audubon's watercolours. The book measures more than 3 ft by 2 ft (90 cm by 60cm) because he wanted to paint the birds life size.
Article by the Guardian Newspaper, UK. The piece can be found here: http://bit.ly/hAmlNY