Iconic Images from the Most Valuable Camera in the History of Photography

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The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, but does that make a camera worth over 2 million bucks? It does for this one, the favorite camera of LIFE magazine photographer David Douglas Duncan, known for his war photographs and intimate images of his friend Pablo Picasso. The Associated Press reports today that Austria's WestLicht gallery announced that a Leica M3D, which the gallery says belonged to Duncan, sold for $2.19 million over the weekend, setting the record price for a "commercially produced camera." 

Suzy Banks, writing at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which has Duncan's archive, explained: 

By the time Duncan began photographing the war in Vietnam, he was shooting with Leica M3Ds (D for Duncan), which the company manufactured and designed especially for him, limiting production to four. The battle-hardened camera, curiously enough, also proved ideally suited for one of Duncan's subsequent and more intimate topics: Pablo Picasso and his family. With its soft-click shutter, this camera helped the photographer document the artist's private moments as unobtrusively as possible.

Via the Ransom Center, here are some of Duncan's more iconic images from Vietnam...

...and of Picasso

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