Robert Ballagh: 'It sounds like a lot of money, but if you go through the costs of each of the individual parts... it all adds up'

It might be one of the most expensive books in Irish publishing history, but 125 copies of Robert Ballagh's biography have already sold for €2,500 each. Entitled Monograph, the book contains original artwork, and each copy was hand-made by craftspeople employed from across Europe.

An exclusive limited edition of 350 copies was last week made available from the Gorry Gallery on Dublin's Molesworth Street and will be on sale to the public from tomorrow.

Ballagh says the costs of creating the books, which are linen bound and come complete with cotton gloves to limit potential damage, mean that he won't make any great profit from the enterprise.

"It sounds like a lot of money, but if you go through the costs of each of the individual parts of the book, the giclee prints I include in each would normally cost up to €7,000 each, the linen, the casing, original artwork, and the cost of craftspeople, it all adds up," says Ballagh.

The biography is split into two different volumes, the first of which deals with the artist's life and works up until 1986, and the second which deals with his most recent works and experiences.

"Although the price seems high, not only does it contain a large amount of intricate artwork but it also contains a lot of interesting anecdotes and interviews," says Ciaran Carty, who wrote the biography. One section features an interview with molecular biologist James Watson, who discovered the structure of DNA. Ballagh was commissioned to do a portrait of the scientist, and Carty later carried out a lengthy and exclusive interview with him.

Although the publication is only for sale in the gallery, Ballagh is planning on releasing it through bookshops if sales take off. "I don't know how the rest of the sales will go, but if they do take off the plan is to make it available in as many bookshops as possible."