A prototype Leica “0” camera (#105) that belonged to Oscar Barnack, inventor of the Leica series, crushed previous auction records as well as the pre-auction estimates. The camera, auctioned at the Leitz Photographica Auction on June 13, 2022, sold for 12 million euros (hammer price) and 14 million euros when the buyer’s premium is included. The total is around $14.4 million U.S. dollars, making it the world’s most expensive 35mm camera. The pre-auction estimate was between 2 and 3 million euros, and the previous high sale price was 2.4 million euros for a Leica “0” prototype (#122) sold in March 2018 at WestLicht’s auction in Vienna.
For more information on the Leica prototype cameras, you can find two articles about them on our site. The first is a detailed description of the Ur-Leica camera invented by Oscar Barnack in 1913. You can also find the saga of one industrious PHSNE member’s quest to build a DIY-version of the Ur-Leica out of various original, salvaged, and custom-made parts. FYI, the name Leica became the brand when the first production cameras were developed, derived from a combination of Leitz (the manufacturer) and camera.
The Ur-Leica: Primeval, Primitive, Original, Earliest Leica