Is this Leica the most expensive camera in the world?
the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction (which also celebrates the auction house’s 20th anniversary) takes place in June. This is the greatest opportunity for photography collectors to drop five, six and seven figure sums on important, weird and otherwise wonderful photo material. At the 39th Leitz Auction, for example, the Leica MP Black Paint No. 55 title sold for a whopping €1.2 million (~$1.34 million), which is especially insane considering it was only valued at €300,000 to €350,000 (~$334,000 to ~$390,000).
The catalog of the last Leitz auction is live now, so let’s look at some (incredibly unaffordable) artifacts of historical photographic significance.
Leica 0 series no. 105 ‘Oskar Barnack’
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Two years before commercial production Leica A launched the 35mm film revolution, Leica produced approximately 23 0-series prototypes to test the market. Only 12 or more still exist today, so any 0-series is obviously a rare camera. A sold at auction in 2018 for a record €2.4 million (~$2.67 million).
What makes this Series 0 (serial number 105) extra special is that it was the personal camera of the founder of Leica Oskar Barnack—his name is even engraved on the viewfinder. The lot also includes a “heavily modified Nettel camera that Barnack used for his photographic research” and related documents and letters.
Given the price of the last 0 series to be auctioned and the historical significance of this particular model, it’s no wonder that Leitz Photographica has set the valuation high. The starting price is €1 million (~$1.11 million) while the expected final price is between €2 million (~$2.23 million) and €3 million ( ~$3.34 million). Don’t be surprised if it becomes the most expensive camera ever sold!
Leica MP Black Paint No. 26
If you just missed the Leica MP Black Paint (serial number 55) which sold for 1.2 million euros (~$1.34 million) at the last Leitz Photographica auction, the good news is another one is for sale. Only 412 Leica MPs were produced, of which only 141 so-called “black painted” models. So, despite back-to-back showings at auction, these are incredibly rare cameras.
According to Leica, serial number 26 is in “original condition showing a patina from years of professional use”, which basically means it’s a bit beaten up. Still, it is expected to fetch between €300,000 and €350,000 (~$334,000 and ~$390,000).
If that’s still a little stiff, the Leica MP Chrome No. 191 also goes under the hammer. Leica expects it to fetch just €80,000 to €100,000 (~$89,000 to ~$111,000).
Leica MP Gold Single
This Leica MP is a bit different since it’s not a vintage camera from the 50s (nor a Leica MP digital camera), but a specially made, gold-plated and leather-covered version. of ostrich Leica MP film camera currently manufactured. (Yes, Leica’s naming protocols are confusing).
Leica manufactured this over-the-top camera, along with the included Elmar-M 2.8/50mm lens with gold-filled accents, to be auctioned off for charity. All proceeds will go to non-profit organizations in Austria and Germany.
While a regular MP will set you back just under $6,000, Leica hopes someone shells out between €16,000 and €20,000 (~$17,800 and ~$22,300) for this gold-plated version.
How to bid
If you are interested in (and can afford) one of these cameras, or other cameras and lenses on salethe auction takes place at Leitz Park (or Leica World) in Germany on June 11, 2022. All the information you need to bid can be found on the Leitz Photographica auction website.