The Wetzlar Camera Auction is always interesting and sometimes amusing to watch. Interesting to see some of the rare items that often seem to pop up and amusing because of the ridiculous sums of money that some people are willing to fork over in order to own them. And the recently concluded Wetzlar auction is no exception, where one person paid almost $700,000 for a rare 24x24mm Leica M prototype.
Before the auction began, the rare Leica was estimated to be worth around €8,000-10,000 but it went under the hammer for a whopping €687,500, which equates to around $668,000 in US currency at today’s exchange rate. With its square 24x24mm exposures, it was designed to capture 52 images on a roll of film rather than the standard 36 for the regular 35mm format.
The Leica M prototype has no built-in viewfinder and combines design features from the Leica MD and MDa. The frame counter goes all the way up to 60 – which makes sense for those who roll their own film and would often end up with an extra frame or few at the end of the roll. It was a previously unknown experimental model of camera, and well, it certainly seemed popular with one auction-goer.
This wasn’t the only high-value item sold in the auction, either, as you can see in the video above. The auction, which consisted primarily of Leica gear, also included another 24x24mm prototype, this time a Leica LC, which sold for a much more reasonable €175,000 (~$170K), a black Leica MP that sold for €625,000 (~$606K), a Leica MDa NASA Replica that also sold for €625,000 but also a rare Nikon Nikkor-O Auto 58mm f/1 that fetched an impressive €187,500 (~$182K).
I can understand wanting some of these items, but no matter how rich I might be, I just can’t fathom spending this kind of money on them.