Why this rare Leica could become the most valuable camera in the world


Know it before it even happens. One rare Leica is rooting for the most-valuable-camera-in-the-world spot and it might just win. The gold plated Leica Luxus II camera is the only surviving model found and fortunately for photography enthusiasts, it is to be sold at an auction. Marc Allum, antiques expert and a presenter on Antiques Roadshow, discovered the camera on the program 12 years ago and said it has the potential to be the “most valuable find ever.”

“Leicas are the best cameras, the 35mm film was developed by Leica,” says Allum. Leica lovers would agree and be even happier to hear that only four of these cameras were ever produced and in this case (no photographic pun intended), the Leica comes with its distinctive crocodile skin case. “They used to make specialist editions and one-offs. This is one of four ever made; it’s probably one of the rarest Leicas in the world. The whereabouts of the other three are unknown. It might be the only one that has survived,” he explains further. From its gold plating and crocodile skin case, experts believe the camera may have been specially crafted for a wealthy owner. Allum, who also wrote The Antiques Magpie, adds, “it’s the only example of a camera in this distinctive case.”

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“I found it on the roadshow 12 years ago and it’s been languishing, ready to resurface and it’s taken a long time,” continues Allum. “It was a strange experience at the time. It was put in front of me and I looked at it in complete disbelief. I never expected to see a camera like that.” Two special presentation Leica II’s were made with one presented to Professor August Piccard, one of the pioneers of the exploration of the stratosphere and another to Dr. Leon Frobenius, a leading explorer of Central America. One to possess the latest find stands to fall right in line with such noteworthy names.

“It’s a fantastic thing and could be the most expensive thing to ever come from Antiques Roadshow. It’s the rarest camera I’ve ever handled. I’ve been literally shaking with anticipation,” said Allum of the camera that is set to star on the Christmas show of Antiques Roadshow. At the same time, it is also set to be on display at Bonhams until October 30 before it is shipped to Hong Kong for auction on November 22. Jon Baddeley, managing director of Bonhams, which is hosting the sale in Hong Kong, said, “we valued another Leica camera at £625,000, and that was one of 95. The one we are putting up is one of only four to come off the production line. That makes it about 25 times more rare. It’s hard to put a price on it. From a collectors point of view I would be disappointed if it didn’t go for more than £1m (over $1.6 million).” We couldn’t agree more!

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Hearing the words “it’s a very, very limited run. There might be more, but I’ve never seen them and only three more can ever be found,” we’re curious to see what becomes of the artifact’s heritage but what is known and notable is the fact that the original owner could never have anticipated the worth of what he had in his hands. “He wasn’t a collector. He was given it because he was a keen amateur photographer,” said Baddeley, believing the camera was given to its late owner by a family friend after the war and used throughout the 1940s and ‘50s.

“At the time it wasn’t worth anywhere near as much as it is now. It’s just that the market has moved so quickly,” confirms Allum. Today’s stats state its value at between $800,000 and $1.3 million but experts suggest it might go for more than $1.6 million and become the most expensive camera ever sold.

[Via – Telegraph]