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When PopPhoto first reported on the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction, the former camera of Leica founder Oskar Barnack was up for grabs and expected to fetch a nice little $3 million. Well, the gavel has fallen, and Barnack’s Leica 0-Series Model 105 sold for just over $15 million, or five times the projection. This makes it the most expensive camera ever sold.

Why is this Leica 0-Series Model 105 so special?

Two years before the appearance of the Leica A, the company released the 0-Series as a means to test the market. According to the Leitz Auction, only around 22 were ever produced and today there remain less than 12 in existence. 

leica 0-series model 105
This Leica 0-Series Model 105 is one of just a dozen left today. Leitz Photographica Auction

Number 105 was the personal camera of Leica inventor Oskar Barnack, and his name is engraved on the Galilean viewfinder. (This is a viewfinder typical in vintage cameras.) Barnack reportedly used this camera until 1930, when he passed it to his son Conrad and upgraded to the Leica I Model C, which has interchangeable lenses. The 0-Series Model 105 remained in Barnack’s family until 1960 when it passed to the hands of a U.S. collector.

Bidding began at 1 million euros with the expectation the camera would garner around 3 million. The final selling price was 14.4 million euros, or just over USD $15 million. It wallops the previous record set by the auction house, which sold a Leica 0-Series no. 122 in 2018 for $2.5 million. The deep-pocketed buyer will now acquire not only the heavily-modified camera (Barnack used this for photographic research) but the original leather lens cap, an aluminum cap engraved with Barnack’s initials, and documents and letters pertaining to Model 105. 

leica 0-series model 105
This Leica 0-Series Model 105 is one of just a dozen left today. Leitz Photographica Auction

Other notable sales

While none were quite as dramatic as the Model 105, there was still a generous bevy of other interesting Leica gear and paraphernalia on the auction block. One of Barnack’s original prints, made on an Ur-Leica in 1914, sold for $9,400, while a black-paint Leica MP brought in $100,000. Another piece we had previously reported on, the Leica MP Unique Gold, fetched just over $75,000.

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