If there was ever any doubt that Leica is the undisputed king of cameras, this recent auction result proves just how much photographers and camera enthusiasts love the German camera manufacturer. Last weekend, an 0-Series Leica that was originally produced in 1923 sold for an incredible €14,400,000 (AU$21,600,792), setting a new world record for the most expensive camera ever sold in the process.
The specific camera in question was one of just 23 examples of the 0-Series Leica that was ever made just shy of a century ago, as a range that was launched two years ahead of the Leica A in order to test the market. Just a dozen of these historically important cameras remain today, however, this specific example had the serial number 105, which was understood to belong to Oskar Barnack, the inventor of the first Leica prototypes.
Barnack’s name can be seen plainly engraved into the top of the Galilean finder, and despite being well used with 99 years of wear visible across the body of the camera, it remains in remarkably good condition considering its age. It’s believed that Barnack personally used the camera until 1930 when he passed it on to his son Conrad, where it stayed in the family until 1960 when it was sold to a collector in the US.
The result this Oskar Barnack-owned 0-Series Leica achieved was nearly five times its upper estimate of €3 million (AU$4.5 million), and eclipsed the previous record for the highest price ever paid for a camera easily. That was also held by a Leica from 1923, an O-Series to be specific, which sold for US$2.95 million (AU$4.25 million) in 2021.
The camera was sold at Leitz Photographica Auction’s 40th Camera Auction, which saw other highlights in a Leica MP Black Paint No. 26 camera that sold for €960,000 (AU$1,439,295) and a Summilux 1.4/50mm Chrome Prototype lens that sold for €114,000 (AU$170,916).