The “world’s most expensive” camera has sold for $15 million.
A Leica 0-Series no. 105 owned by the brand’s inventor, Oskar Barnack, has sold for an impressive €14.4 million (US$15 million) at auction.
The camera made in 1923 had a pre-sale estimate of €2 million – €3 million (US$2 million – $3.1 million).
Only about 22 of the 0-Series were made to “test the market” before the Leica A was produced.
About a dozen of these cameras are still around today.
Barnack’s camera is painted black and is well used, with parts replaced by the owner.
His name is engraved on the top.
“The inventor used the camera until 1930, when he gave it to his son, Conrad, and began using a Leica I Model C with interchangeable lenses,” Leitz Photographica Auction, who sold the camera, said.
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“It stayed in the family ownership until 1960, when it was sold to a passionate U.S. collector.”
According to the auction house, the previous record was held by a Leica 0 Series no. 122, which sold in 2018 for €2.4 million (US$2.5 million).
Who was Oskar Barnack?
Born in 1879, German photographer Oskar Barnack was the inventor of the camera brand Leica.
His camera of choice was the prototype which is now known as the Ur-Leica.
Barnack, who died in 1936, made the first 35mm camera, according to the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.
It’s considered the “single most influential camera, and it was the most imitated”.
“From 1914 until his death he took a series of images of events that documented the relationship of people and environment,” the museum says.
“For example, he photographed the historic flooding of Wetzlar in 1920.”
The camera didn’t go into production until 10 years later, delayed by the outbreak of World War I.
Barnack was also a master mechanic.