HONG KONG - An Asian buyer purchased a rare Leica camera, one of only four of its kind in the world, for US$620,000 (S$780,000) at a Hong Kong auction, auctioneers said Saturday.
The 1932 Leica Luxus II fetched HK$4.84 million (S$780,000) late Friday in an auction where about 80 cameras and accessories went under the hammer in the southern Chinese city.
But the selling price failed to set a new world record for a camera, as some expected, falling short of earlier sale estimates of up to HK$9 million.
The world record for a camera was set in Vienna last year, when a Leica camera prototype - the 0-Series made in 1923 - sold for 2.16 million euros (S$3.49 million).
Only four of the Luxus II cameras were ever made, auctioneers Bonhams said. The whereabouts of the other three are unknown.
The camera, which is gold-plated and comes with a crocodile skin case, had previously belonged to a British amateur photographer who acquired it soon after the World War II, Bonhams said.
A spokesman for Bonhams said the buyer was Asian, but did not reveal the nationality.
Another rare camera, a 1930 Leica Luxus I, also sold for HK$4.84 million at the auction Friday, also below the estimated sale price.
The prices such cameras fetch are a barometer of the growing interest for early photographic materials.
"Bringing the camera sale to Hong Kong has once again been more than justified," Jon Baddeley, Managing Director of Bonhams Knightsbridge, London and Global Head of Collectibles, told AFP in an email.
The former British colony has become a hub for auctions of collectibles and rare items, ranging from diamonds to stamps, thanks to growing wealth in China and other parts of Asia.