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First up were Westlicht in Vienna on November 22, whose top Leica set the auction record for any commercially produced camera when one of only four MP models made for the famous Life magazine photographer David Douglas Duncan, who owned the camera until 2007, took €1.4m (£1.18m) hammer against a starting price of €150,000.

M3D-2 of a series numbered M3D-1 to 4 was from 1955 and in good condition. A black patent Leicavit with Summilux 1,4 /50mm lens, no: 2028874, the camera came with a special rewind and Duncan's original belt.

As well as being a celebrated war photographer, Duncan was also famous for his friendship with Pablo Picasso, which led to seven books of photos of the artist, all taken with the Leica M3-D.

Demand in Hong Kong

Bonhams also had something to smile about after their launch sale dedicated to Leicas in Hong Kong on November 23.

Head of collectables John Baddeley said that what had been a "bit of a gamble" in launching the sale in Hong Kong had "paid off handsomely".

"Already we can see that this market is outstripping New York and London," he said.

The 85% sold offering was topped by a c.1930 Leica Luxus I, no 40848, with a 50mm f3.5 Elmar lens and faux lizard body. Estimated at HK$1.2m-1.8m, the camera had come from the collection of the late E.J. (Jack) Newton, a founder member and first president of the Leica Historical Society. Prior to purchase by the consignor, it had been on display at the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain in Bath.

One of only 95 Luxus cameras, all made to order in 1929-30, it took HK$6.2m (£531,730), a record price for a Luxus.

The sale included over 250 lots of Leica cameras and accessories from two major private collections, including items from the estate of the watchmaking legend Dr George Daniels, whose unique classic car collection contributed heavily to Bonhams' £22m Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in June and whose watch collection has just sold at Sotheby's to total £8.28m.

The world auction record for any camera remains the €2.16m (£1.81m) paid on May 12, also at Westlicht, for one of around 25 prototype Leica 0-Series models from 1923.