UPDATE: The ultra-rare 'Apple Leica' prototype, expected to command as much as $293,000 / £213,000 / AU$385,000, has been pulled at the last minute from this weekend's Leitz Photographica Auction.
The one-of-a-kind product, arguably the best Leica camera (opens in new tab) never made, was the brainchild of Apple designers Jovy Ive and Marc Newson. However, this unique prototype is no longer up for sale.
"The seller decided at the last minute to pull the camera," wrote Business Insider (opens in new tab), citing Andreas Schweige of Leitz Photographica Auction. "It was a test model for the only completed Leica camera by the designers, which went up for sale in a 2013 charity auction. It sold for $1.8 million.
"Schweiger wouldn't say more about the prototype's owner, or why the item had been pulled from the sale. Michal Kosakowski, Leitz Photographica Auction's product specialist, who was also on the Zoom call, said that the owner was in the US."
ORIGINAL STORY (31 Mar 2021): An ultra-rare prototype of an 'Apple Leica' camera, conceived by Apple designers Jovy Ive and Marc Newson, will go up for auction in June with a top estimate of €250,000 – approximately $293,000 / £213,000 / AU$385,000.
It is the prototype for the Product (RED) Leica digital rangefinder camera – a one-off body designed by Ive and Newson in 2013, which sold for $1.8 million in U2 frontman Bono's charity auction in support of The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Also in that auction were a pair of gold Apple EarPods among other one-of-a-kind items.
• Read more: Best Leica cameras (opens in new tab)
The upcoming auction in June isn't for charity, though; it's the annual Leitz Photographica Auction, at which all kinds of exotic photographic esoterica hits the market and commands eye-watering sums from collectors.
The 'Jony Ive / Marc Newson Design Leica Prototype', as it is described in the official listing (opens in new tab), is "a very special prototype Leica, designed by world-famous designers Jony Ive and Marc Newson. A beautifully sculptured aluminum body with a matching Apo-Summicron 2/50 mm ASPH. lens – both showing distinctive features both designers are famous for.
"Only one finished camera has been made and was sold in an auction in 2013 for an amazing $ 1.8M! The prototype we have the pleasure to offer shows the final development step when the camera took its final shape after hundreds of prototype parts have been made and tried. It is a beautiful piece of design and a very special opportunity for Leica collectors!"
The note that the ultimate Product (RED) Leica (which you can see here (opens in new tab)) was the only finished camera suggests that the prototype here isn't a functioning model, so this could well be the most expensive camera that can't actually take any pictures – though it will surely look amazing on your camera shelf.
If it did work, it would have a full-frame CMOS sensor to accompany its (also probably non-working) 50mm f/2 Summicron nifty fifty lens. Its minimalist design sees all the markings absent from both the lens and control dials (sans a solitary "A" for auto on the shutter speed dial), which was redressed for the Product (RED) version. Only fair that you should be able to see your settings, when you spend $1.8 million on a camera.
If you're looking for something similarly cool in a fixed-lens Leica, we can point you towards the Leica Q2 (opens in new tab) and Leica D-Lux 7 (opens in new tab) – both of which are, astonishingly for Leicas, absolute bargains by comparison!