July 17, 2008 / 5:24 PM / 11 years ago

Beatrix Potter drawing sets record

A handout image from Sotheby's auction house from their English Literature Sale shows Beatrix Potter's illustration for the final scene from the "The Rabbits Christmas Party" which sold for a record £289,250 at auction July 17, 2008. The sale price, almost 5 times its pre-sale high estimate is a new world record for any book illustration sold at auction. REUTERS/Sotheby's/Handout

LONDON (Reuters) - An original watercolour illustration by Beatrix Potter for the final scene from the Rabbit Christmas Party set a new auction record on Thursday at 289,250 pounds.

The sum was nearly five times the top end of the pre-sale estimate of 40-60,000 pounds, making the painting of rabbits leaving the party by candlelight the most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction, Sotheby’s said.

Sotheby’s said the buyer was a private British collector.

It was one of 20 original illustrations, books, unpublished Christmas cards and letters by children’s author and illustrator Potter from the collection of her brother Bertram Potter on offer at the London sale.

The whole collection, the most extensive group of Beatrix Potter artwork to have appeared on the market in decades, realised a total of 748,200 pounds.

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