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14.4 Million for a Prototype

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The serial production of the world’s first 35mm camera marked the beginning of photography as we now know it. Before this groundbreaking camera became publicly available in the mid-1920s, Leitz produced an estimated 23 prototypes, known as the 0-Series (1923/1924). Model no. 105 has now changed hands at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction at Leitz Park in Wetzlar.  
 
“This is a magnificent milestone,” the experienced auctioneer, Wolfgang Pauritsch, noted when the 4-million-euro threshold was passed. At this point, the record had already been broken: the 0-Series Leica once owned by Oskar Barnack was officially the most expensive camera in the world. Bids were now being placed in 500,000-euro increments. At 7 million, the auctioneer predicted: “It’s going to be a long day!”

A brief murmur ripples through the room, but an instant later, the battle once again resumes. After the 10-million-euro mark, the contenders place their bids in six-figure increments… and then, the auction hammer falls: a bidder from the Asian continent acquires model no. 105 for 12 million euros – which is 14.4 million euros including the buyer’s premium. The tension in the hall dissolves in thunderous applause: this is a world record likely to stand undefeated for some time.

There were several other exciting lots at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction, whose details and results can be viewed at https://www.leitz-auction.com/.
Yet they are, inevitably, eclipsed by the winning bid for Oskar Barnack’s personal prototype, which he used to capture numerous photographs. He later passed the camera on to his son, who temporarily loaned it to the Deutsche Museum in Munich. After he retrieved it, the camera passed into collectors’ circles in the US. For a short while, visitors to the Ernst Leitz Museum will still be able to see the legendary camera for themselves. After that, 0-Series model no. 105 will most likely disappear from public view…

To find out more about the auction visit Leitz Photographica Auction

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