Leica MP owned by Yul Brynner (Pic: Leitz Photographica)
Brynner was a lifelong photography enthusiast who took many pictures on set with his Leicas (Pic: Leitz Photographica)

Two Leica cameras owned by Academy Award-winning actor Yul Brynner are set to be auctioned at the forthcoming Leitz Photographica sale later this month.

The Leicas are both black-painted 1958 Leica MPs with consecutive serial number – 59 and 60.

Both have a starting price of €400,000 and are expected to fetch between €600,000 and €700,000 at the sale in Vienna, Austria on 25 November.

Leitz Photographica said in the listings: “Yul Brynner, known for his iconic stage and screen performances, such as his Academy Award-winning portrayal of King Mongkut in ‘The King and I,’ was not only a legendary actor but also a multifaceted artist. His magnetic charisma and distinctive bald head made him an unforgettable Hollywood figure. Beyond acting, Brynner was a director and photographer, a facet of his creativity showcased by his ownership of two rare black paint Leica MP cameras.

“The Leica MP no.59 and 60 were personal cameras of Brynner, and are now a symbol of Brynner’s commitment to the art of photography. However, it is his extensive body of work, consisting of thousands of photographs, that truly exemplifies his photographic prowess. Brynner’s photographs tell stories, capturing moments in time with the same dedication and precision he brought to the stage and screen, leaving an enduring legacy in both the worlds of cinema and photography.”

The cameras are separately listed. The listed for MP-59 says: “The camera is in very good, original, and unrestored condition, it shows an attractive patina of use around the edges. It is, of course, in perfect working condition. This special Leica includes a matching, sought-after black paint Leicavit MP and a Canon 3.5/25mm lens no.10749.”

Publicity pic of Yul Brynner in 1960 (Pic: Public domain)
A publicity still of Brynner in 1960 (Pic: Public domain)

The listing for MP-60 says: “The camera is in similar cosmetic condition as the MP-59, with an attractive patina of use around the edges, it is also in perfect working condition. This special Leica includes a matching, sought-after black paint Leicavit MP and a rigid chrome Summicron 2/5cm no.1513257.”

Yul Brynner, who was born in Vladivostok in Russia before emigrating to the US, was a lifelong fan of photography. He took many pictures on set on films such as ‘The King and I’, for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1956. Brynner died in 1985 after developing lung cancer.

Four volumes of his life’s photography work were compiled and released with the help of his daughter Victoria in 2010. One volume is made up of images he took on set during the production of pictures such as ‘The King and I’, ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘Anastasia’.

The Leitz sale, which take place in Vienna’s Hotel Bristol, includes many other notable cameras and photographica items, some of which will be featured in upcoming stories on Kosmo Foto.

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Stephen Dowling
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