Meet the $1.6M Leica Luxus II

This gold plated Leica Luxus II camera is the only surviving model found and is the first time the camera and its distinctive crocodile skin case has ever been seen. It is valued at between £500,000 and £800,000 ($807,850-$1,292,560 USD) but experts believe because of the trend for the Leica brand, it is likely to reach more than £1m ($1,615,700 USD) at auction and could become the most expensive camera ever sold. The Telegraph goes on to say that the camera was given to its late owner, an amateur photographer, after the end of WWII. He used it throughout the 1940s and 1950s and is unlikely to have been aware of how valuable it was to become. Marc Allum, antiques expert and a presenter on Antiques Roadshow, discovered the camera on the program 12 years ago and said it has the potential to be the “most valuable find ever.” If you're interested, make sure you put your bid in on Bonham's Lot 1681 now!

Update (11/22/13): In the end, the camera only sold for for £386,981($626,947.92 USD) including buyer's premium - a long way short of a world record, and a million short of expectations.

Bonham's lot details:

An extraordinarily rare Leica Luxus II, 1932, Serial No. 88840. with 50mm f/3.5 Elmar lens, No.137447, with unusual bell-push release, camera with lavatory seat type range finder housing (with recess under the shutter dial), lens scaled in feet the base plate engraved with "Open" and "Close", body with faux lizard leather cover, together with Leica Luxus crocodile camera case, brass fastening clip

According to Leitz factory records, only four Luxus Leica IIs were made with serial numbers: 88840, 94573, 97313 and 98248. The whereabouts of the other three examples is currently unknown.

In addition, two special presentation Leica II's were also made. Number 75,000 was presented to Professor August Piccard, one of the pioneers of the exploration of the stratosphere and later designer of the "Bathyscape." Number 100,000 was presented to Dr Leon Frobenius, a leading explorer of Central America.

Although the crocodile ever-ready case appears in various advertisements for Leica Luxus, this is the first example ever to come to light.

VAN HASBROECK, Paul-Henry, Leica in Colour, Philip Wilson Publications, 1997, pp.34-35.
LAGER, James L., Leica - An Illustrated History, Vol. I, Lager Limited Editions, 1993, p.27.

The British owner of this camera was a keen amateur photographer who acquired this Leica soon after World War II and used it for many years.