The 31st WestLicht Camera Auction concluded with an over 90% sales quota. The top auction prices, however, are no longer restricted to rare Leica cameras. For some time now, items made in Japan have been especially popular among collectors – at this particular auction, five of the ten highest bids were achieved by Japanese products. For example, a Nikon S3-M with S72 motor sold for € 102,000, spearheading the auction alongside a rare Leica IIIc Grey W.H. roundshot camera from 1944. They were followed by the prototype of an Olympus Standard from 1937 (estimated at €35,000–€40,000, sold for €54,000), and a black-paint Leica M3 (estimated at €25,000–€35,000), which went to the highest bidder for €48,000.
Surprisingly, the greatest success of this auction was achieved by two lenses – both of which vastly surpassed their initial starting price. One of only two remaining prototypes of the Elcan 35mm (produced for the Leica M) went from a starting bid of €20,000 to a sales price €90,000. In the same vein, an Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 prototype (starting bid €12,000) exceeded all expectations by selling for €48,000. In addition, Nikon’s 13mm f/5.6 fish-eye lens went under the hammer for an extraordinary €45,600.
The two most expensive single images at this year’s auction were both vintage prints – !Mainbocher! Corset by Horst P. Horst, and a portrait of Marcel Duchamp created by Irving Penn – each of which sold for €38,400. A batch of 12 vintage prints from the series The Great Leap Forward by Magnum co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson reached a bidding price of €36,000. The greatest surprise, however, was Flip Schulke’s underwater shot of Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali), taken in the 1990s. The 47.7×32.0cm print went from a starting price of €2,600 to a final bid of €26,400.
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