NEW YORK  - A full-size, complete first edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” sold for $7.9 million at auction on Friday in New York to a private American collector, Christie’s said.

The four-volume, bound “Duke of Portland” set of 435 hand-colored engravings in excellent condition and more than 3 feet (1 meter) in height is considered one of the most prized books of ornithological art ever produced. Francis Wahlgren, Christie’s international head of books and manuscripts, said the $7.9 million sale was the third highest price for a printed book at auction.