World's rarest camera - the £1.7m gold-plated Leica Luxus II - to be sold

The extravagance is encased in expensive lizard skin, has a 50mm Elmar lens and comes in a crocodile case which is unique to the camera

A gold-plated camera believed to be the rarest in the world is set to go up for auction - and it's expected to fetch more than £1.7million.

The Leica Luxus II has a 50mm Elmar lens and comes in its very own crocodile skin case.

It is one of just four original limited edition models produced in 1932. What makes this particular camera all the more precious is that the other three are untraceable.

The rarity of the object means interest will be high when it goes under the hammer. It's commanding a base price of £800,000, but is expected to sell for twice that amount after an earlier Leica 0 series sold for almost £2m last year.

The 81-year-old Leica, serial number 88840, was given to its current owner shortly after the Second World War. The owner - who wishes to remain anonymous - used it for years without realising how much it was worth.

It was only when he showed the Leica to TV presenter Marc Allum on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow in 2001 that the owner realised the camera was something of a rarity.
A rare gold plated 1932 Leica Luxus II camera with its crocodile skin case. (Bonhams / Splash News)

But Mr Allum predicted it would sell for just £5,000 at the time.

The owner decided to hold onto it, but since 2001 the price of vintage cameras have rocketed and he has now decided to sell it.

Andrew Currie, spokesman for Bonhams, said: "There were 52,000 models made of the ordinary Leica IIs, but there were only ever four made of these Luxus Leica IIs.

"It was a luxury version of the ordinary camera, and the whereabouts of the other three is unknown so this is extremely rare.

"There may have only been such a small number made as a way of making it seem more desirable by the company, or they could have been made to order."

The rare Leica Luxus was discovered on the BBC's 'Antiques Roadshow'. (Bonhams / Splash News)
The intricate gold detail can be seen on the Leica Luxus camera. (Bonhams / Splash News)

Jon Baddeley, from auctioneers Bonham, said: "Leica is a legendary name among cameras and has always had a reputation for cutting edge technology.

"Right from the start, it looked modern and its appeal was based very much on its portability and the fact that such a compact camera could produce negatives that could be enlarged. 

"By the early 1930s it was firmly established as the camera of choice for artistic photographers and the press and was a key factor in the development of photojournalism."

The camera will be auctioned at Bonhams in Hong Kong on November 22.