Bonhams, one of the largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques, has broken the auction world record for an Exceptional Leica Luxus 1 camera that sold for nearly $1 million in the first Leica sale in Hong Kong.
The Luxus cameras were produced in small numbers on special order between 1929 and 1930, with serial numbers between 28692 and 68834. Only 95 units were produced, and far fewer are known to exist today.
The Leica auction, the first its kind in Hong Kong, saw strong results, with over 85 percent of its lots sold. The top item went for a staggering $968,000 – a world record for this particular rare Leica model.
One of the world's most influential photographers, French luminary Henri Cartier-Bresson, was among those who used Leica cameras throughout his legendary career.
The Exceptional Leica Luxus I, circa 1930, complete with a 50mm f3.5 Elmar lens and a faux lizard skin body covering, had previously been estimated at a value of $150,000, nearly seven times less than the final bid.
"This was the first Leica sale in Hong Kong and the results more than justify our belief in the idea of bringing these wonderful cameras to China which has a rapidly emerging market for vintage cameras," Jon Baddley, head of Collectables at Bonhams said.
The sale included over 250 lots of Leica cameras and accessories from two major private collections. The Exceptional Leica Luxus 1 camera was from the collection of one of the founder members of the Leica Historical Society.
"We took a bit of a gamble but it has paid off handsomely. Already we can see that this market is outstripping New York and London," Baddley added.
Leica first emerged into the spotlight at the Germany's Leipzig Trade Fair of 1925, when scientific instrument company Ernst Leitz launched the Leica I. The first Leica, which used revolutionary full-frame 35mm film, was a lightweight camera invented by the company's chief engineer and designer, Oskar Barnack.