A Leica has broken all records by selling for 14.4 million euros. It is one of 23 copies of the prototype of the series, produced by Leitz Camera, a company chaired by Ernst Leitz between 1923 and 1924. It is one of the first 35mm cameras ever made in the world, a cornerstone of photography modern.

Leica cameras began mass production in the mid-1920s, but before that, in 1923 and 1924, Leitz produced 23 examples of the 0-series prototype. One of them has been auctioned in Vienna, on the occasion of the Annual Leitz Photo Auction. And it broke all historical records for a camera by selling for 14.4 million euros.

The auctioned model, series 0 no. 105, also has a special history. It belonged to Oskar Barnack, a German inventor and photographer who built the first 35mm camera in 1913, later called the Leica, at the Leitz factory in Wetzlar. An engineer at the Leitz company, he suffered from asthma, so he decided to reduce the size and weight of cameras in order to take pictures outdoors. The name given to the camera was Leica, which is an anagram derived from Leitz Camera and began marketing in 1924. Oskar Barnack’s name is engraved on the top of the viewfinder. He had designed a model ‘Liliput’ camera shortly before the First World War broke out. That was precisely the prototype of the future Leica, and precisely using his 105 Barnack, considered the father of 35mm photography, he perfected his studies to develop later models.

Despite being almost a century old, this camera looks very good. The exterior is painted black with a patina from years of use. The lot included an original leather lens cap, an aluminum back cap embossed with the initials ‘OB’, and a Neteller camera that Barnack used for his photographic research studies, as well as numerous documents and letters about the camera. Only a few parts were changed by his owner, who used the camera until 1930, when she gave it to his son Conrad and started using a Leica I Model C with interchangeable lenses. It remained in family hands until 1960, when it was sold to an American collector.

The starting price was 1 million euros, but it was finally sold for 14.4 million. Until now the record was held by another Series 0 camera, which earned $2.96 million in 2018.