When your camera looks like it's just been barbecued alongside a 12oz rib-eye, you'd be forgiven for thinking any residual value had entirely gone up in smoke. But in the case of a Leica, the priceless kudos of that little red dot can even endure a cremation.
In good - unroasted - condition, you could expect to pay over $4000 for a Leica M4 rangefinder, while the Summicron 50mm lens attached to it could fetch an additional $1000. Consequently, the hammer price of £1200 ($1670) for this 'characterful' example could almost be considered a bargain, even once you add auction house Flints' premiums and taxes and the final total comes to £1,488 ($2,070).
Even so, it's not like you'll be restoring this to its former glory any time soon, so paying $2000 does seem a little steep. The price may be more justifiable if the fire damage had been the result of a news-worthy story in the camera's past - a journalist being forced to abandon it in the heat of a war zone, for instance - but the backstory of this circa-1968 M4 is much more mundane.
Formerly owned by photographer Jonathan Bloom, he revealed to the Vintage Camera Collectors Facebook group that this Leica M4 had received its new look after being damaged in a house fire. Bloom went on to say:
“I owned this actual camera years ago. Bought it at a camera show. Sold it to a collector. Wound up in an auction. Now it’s here [at auction]. so random. FYI; I paid $900 for it at the time. Maybe too much. Maybe too little. I thought of it as pared down to the basics of design. An object, perfect in its form. Stripped of its utility but perfect in its design. That is what’s cool about this. Anyone who bemoans the broken camera is full of s–t.”
Maybe 'cool' isn't quite the most suitable description of this smokin' hot Leica, but you can't deny it's a talking point and most certainly unique. However, if you'd like your Leica to generate photos as well as conversation, check out our latest guides to the best Leica Cameras and the best Leica M lenses.