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Estimated at $4m-6m, the copy drew strenuous competition on October 14 from three phone bidders. After a six-minute bidding battle it was knocked down to US book dealer Stephan Loewentheil at $8.4m (£6.46m), a sum that surpassed the previous auction high of $6.16m/£3.73m (including premium) for a First Folio sold in the same saleroom in October 2001. The price including buyer’s premium was $9.98m (£7.65m). Other top prices for the 1623 collected edition of the Bard’s plays include the £3.5m paid by Paul Getty for a copy sold by Oriel College, Oxford in a deal brokered by Maggs Brothers in 2003, as well as the £2.5m hammer price for the First Folio from Dr Williams’ Library sold at Sotheby’s in July 2006. Christie’s claimed the latest price was also a record for “any work of literature”. While technically true, the record for any printed book remains the $12.5m (£8.1m) for the Bay Psalm Book – the first book printed in the US which was of a religious nature rather than ‘literature’ – that sold at Sotheby’s New York in November 2013. A complete set of John James Audubon’s (1785-1851) four volume Birds of America also fetched $10.25m (£6.5m) at Christie’s in London in 2010. The copy was originally due to appear in a Christie’s auction in April but was held back until the autumn due to the postponements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.