Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du did not know much about Audubon, which proved that to work in warehouse auctions, he needed to keep expanding his erudition.
Audubon was famous in the United States. He had been considered a great bird-painter during his lifetime and got even more appreciation after his death. His very name became a symbol of the cause of animal protection.
Founded in 1886, the Audubon Society was an organization with a history of more than 120 years. It was responsible for teaching generations of Americans to love nature. Since its formation, it has become one of the largest recycling organizations in America.
However, it was a little ironic that Audubon used to make his paintings by hunting birds in large numbers to get specimens. At that time, he did not have the concept of environmental protection or animal welfare, focusing on his hobby and the popularization of ornithology.
Nevertheless, he had become known as a pioneer in protecting animals, birds, and the environment. Li Du wondered what the birds that died at Audubon’s hands a long time ago would think of that.
Now he had to entertain Bravo Tompsey and his party. The Audubon society was famous and powerful in America, and he treated its representatives with due respect.
Bravo was a man of gentle manners, and after meeting Li Du, they exchanged pleasantries.
Tompsey was polite and his good breeding showed in his speech and manner. Cole was the one who had told him about Li Du, and he probably knew quite a bit of Li Du’s identity and work.
Li Du finally understood where the buyer had come from. When he got the book, he posted about it on his Twitter feed and Facebook page. Cole must have seen it and helped him find a buyer.
“Can we see the book first?” Bravo asked.
Li Du nodded. “No problem,” He said.
The book was large, and the birds in the illustrations were done in a one-to-one ratio to their real-life counterparts.
The first illustration showed three fat birds with yellow and white markings on them. Bravo saw them and said, “This is the prairie hazelnut. The two ones who are fighting are definitely cocks, and the one behind is a hen. These are two males fighting for territory and a mate.”
On another page, the drawing above was more beautiful and complex. There was a nest in a tree with four eggs, beside which there were four birds either standing on the treetop or flying in the air. On a branch, there was a large snake with a white belly and black scales.
“These are the nest and eggs of the brown curve-billed mockingbird. They are the most maternal birds. This snake clearly wants to eat the eggs, and they fight their best to protect those.”
In this way, the five men gathered around the desk, turned over the pages, and began to read and discuss what they saw.
On the back cover, there were two birds together. One had blue feathers and the other had purple. Both looked extremely pretty.
Seeing this picture, all five people exclaimed,
“Oh, look here. No prototype has been found yet. This is like an extinct bird of paradise.”
“Look how well-preserved the cover is. Other museums who have copies of this book can’t boast of anything in such good condition.”
“Yes, the back cover of the Smithsonian’s Birds of America was badly worn, too. It was the first time I see the image so clearly.”
“It is not a real species, is it? It doesn’t like any bird I know. ”
“That’s the value of Birds of America, man. Audubon would not paint birds he hadn’t seen before. This beautiful bird definitely existed once, but unfortunately, it is probably extinct by now…”
The five people browsed through the book for nearly an hour, carefully analyzing the patterns on each page.
After they were done, Bravo stroked the book and said, “There are eighty-five species of birds here. Sixty-one are extinct. That’s too bad.”
“So we should work together to protect the environment. You are doing a good job of teaching people to cherish and care for nature, which is the greatest treasure of mankind,” said Li Du.
Upon hearing this, Bravo smiled and said, “We are honored to receive this accolade from you. It is our duty and we hope we can do better.”
After another round of pleasantries, Sophie brought the coffee and they began to talk business.
“Would you sell this book? I wonder what your expected price is,” asked Bravo.
Li Du winked at Hans. It was his turn to talk.
Briskly, Hans listed the superiorities of this book over any other existing original copy of Birds of America and said, “Sixteen million dollars, gentlemen. That’s a fair price, right? It’s a national treasure!”
Bravo’s side has expressed a desire to buy the book, but they could not come up with more than ten million.
Their offer showed the power of the Audubon Society, a nonprofit environmental organization that could spend ten million dollars on a book!
However, given that the organization was one hundred and twenty years old and had made many investments in the financial sector, as well as received national donations, it was understandable that the Audubon Society was wealthy.
Hans would not accept the offer and gave his word that the book would sell for more than fifteen million dollars.
Li Du didn’t expect the book to sell for that much after the previous auctioned copy sold for $11.5 million.
His estimated price for the book was about $11 million, and with inflation and other considerations, he thought it was a fair number.
The two sides played tug-of-war on the price. Bravo’s side was very determined and would not go over ten million dollars.
Hans was like a dog gnawing at a stone. Although he was good at persuading, it seemed all his efforts were futile.
However, he was in no hurry to sell the book to the Audubon society. There would be many museums interested in this book.
Li Du listened to the argument. Then he thought for a moment, clapped his hands and said, “Be quiet, people. Please be quiet for a minute and listen to me.”
The crowd stopped arguing and looked at him at once.
“Clearly, the Audubon Society’s love for the book is obvious,” he continued. “We know the value of the book, and the price of ten million is too low.”
“Why don’t we all take a step back and sell this book for $14 million.”
Bravo and others shook their heads when they heard this.
Li Du said, “The price is fourteen million dollars. When the deal is done, we will donate four million dollars to your association. How about that?”
The Audubon Society officials were moved. They huddled and discussed this, and then Bravo stepped in, smiled and said. “Thank you, Mr. Li, for your support of global environmental causes.”