We all know how a doll looks like. Wwe have seen dolls that cry, blink, wet themselves, sit, walk, and even talk, but the most expensive doll — L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) takes the meaning of “doll” to a whole new perspective. L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) — a 4-ft-tall figure of a young man carrying a sword, holding a flute, and dressed in embroidered Renaissance garb. The world’s most expensive doll named respectively as L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) won’t be found on any typical toy store. In fact, the only place you’re likely to see it is in the Swiss workshop of his creator. Christian Bailly, the genius behind The Bird Trainer is a French-born man is also an expert on automata.
L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) is dressed in silk, satin, and velvet, with skin of painted porcelain, and glass eyes, L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) lifts a flute to his mouth and blows the “Marche des Rois” by Georges Bizet. His fingers play the instrument while his eyes dart back and forth. Of course none of this happens until he’s been entered with a golden key. And if that’s not enough, a bird perched on the Trainer’s shoulder and another in his hand sing along. The tiny birds open and close their beaks, turn their heads, and flap their wings. Each bird has 62 parts and moves in time with the flute’s tune.
L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) came to life in the Swiss workshop of Bailly’s company, named for Jacob Frisard, a renowned automata-maker of the late 18th and early 19th century. Twelve craftsmen spent a total of fifteen thousand hours creating the device. The piece weighs 122 lb, including the jade and mother-of-pearl pedestal. There’s no motor or electrical power source. Spring-driven cogs and gears hidden within the graceful body drive all the actions. In all, the device has 2,340 gilt or polished-steel parts. The asking price for the most expensive doll and a one-of-a-kind collectible doll is $6,250,000. (just to compare with other dolls, the record price for a doll is $230,000.)
The original budget for the most expensive doll was a $400,000, but the costs for precious materials, sculptors, dressmakers, jewelers, wigmakers, and other specialists rounded out of control. To raise the money, Bailly sold more than a hundred 19th century automatons he’d collected over 40 years. L’Oiseleur (The Bird Trainer) was moved only once from Bailly’s Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, workshop. It was exhibited at the Baselworld watch and jewelry show last May.
The work was done in the painstaking tradition of the 18th century, and Bailly won’t part with it cheap. Some of the notable patrons of Bailly are Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg, and David Copperfield.