If you’re familiar with the brand, you certainly know Leica cameras are plenty expensive as it is. However, not even the priciest product in the iconic German manufacturer’s current catalog could hold a candle to the vintage 0-Series No. 105, which was recently auctioned off for a record-breaking $15,000,000 (~14.4 million euros) hammer price, including the buyer’s premium.
Ernst Leitz produced a mere 23 models of these prototype cameras between 1923 and 1924, and now one particular example has set the new standard at the 40th Annual Leitz Photographica Auction. The camera originally belonged to Oskar Barnack, a German photographer and inventor who manufactured the Liliput camera following WW1, which ultimately served as the first-ever functioning commercial 35mm still camera.
It’s hard to imagine paying such a whopping amount for a camera that doesn’t come close to the photographic capabilities of modern cameras… but this is far from your average picture-taker, and is more of a museum-worthy artifact than a mere camera. As a matter of fact, the last camera that held the title of most expensive in the world was also a 0-Series prototype, which was auctioned off for roughly $2.95 million in 2018. Clearly, the status of these Leica icons has appreciated quite a bit in the few years since.
As one of this year’s auction’s more storied lots, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this near-century-old camera ended up being the most lucrative antique up for grabs, but to think it broke a record by such a wide margin is simply jaw-dropping. To learn more about this relic of photographic history, take a deeper look at the 0-Series No. 105 on the Leitz Auction website.