VIENNA — Vintage cameras and photography are burgeoning areas in today’s collectors market, with an ever-increasing demand for vintage hardware and the images produced by them. Leitz Photographica returns for a two-day fall event on Friday, November 24 (Photographs: Shaping Visions) and Saturday, November 25 (Camera Auction) with an outstanding selection of rare and unusual photographic hardware, plus a collection of prints from some of the 20th century’s most noted photographers. The catalogs are now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.
Spanning the two sessions are consignments from the personal collection of the late Yul Brynner (1920-1985) via his daughter Victoria. Though best remembered as the King of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951 on stage, 1956 motion picture), the Russian-born actor was also an extremely talented photographer and Leica fan. Both passions are on display in this sale, with artistic prints and incredibly rare cameras from his collection. All Brynner items come with full estate authentication.
The Leicas of Yul Brynner represent not only his passion for photography, but also his connections as a celebrity who also happened to love shooting pictures. Brynner’s Leica Nos. 59 and 60 in black paint represent the pinnacle of Leica rarity, particularly the 60, of which only 141 were ever made, with nearly all going to professional photographers. With lovingly built-up patinas and perfect operational status, both the MP 59 and MP 60 are individually estimated at €600,000-€700,000 ($636,000-$742,000).
A collection of prints from Brynner’s original negatives are also stars of the sale. They include a 1964 color image of Frank Sinatra departing a helicopter with a drink in his hand and a smile on his face (€6,000-€7,000 or $6,360-$7,420); Audrey Hepburn on a Venetian gondola in 1965 (€18,000-€22,000 or $19,080-$23,320); and Debora Kerr on the set of 1957’s The Journey (€2,500-€3,000 or $2,650-$3,180).
Other notable lots include an ex-Leica Museum Telyt 6/80cm lens, the only one known, estimated at €200,000-€300,000 ($212,000-$318,000), and the Leica Astro Rifle camera designed for the World War II-era Luftwaffe (€160,000-€200,000 or $169,600-$212,000).
In addition to these two sales, Leitz Photographica will present a second event on November 14, starting at 1:30 pm Eastern time, titled Truth in Focus – Auction Benefitting CPJ. Presented in conjunction with Leica Camera USA, it features 22 lots of Leica cameras as well as images by Leonard Freed, Deborah Anderson, Brian Bowen Smith, and more. Proceeds will benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an organization that upholds and defends press freedom the world over.