Leica cam that shot Times Square kiss sells for $150k

The 1937 camera, a nostalgic reminder of the long-ago days before everyone toted a smartphone, was one of many photographic gems offered at a Vienna auction.

This Leica camera has seen a whole lot of history.
WestLicht Photographica

Any camera from the 1930s would probably get photophiles excited. But make it the cam that snapped the famed shot of the couple kissing in Times Square on V-J Day and you've got an OMG find.

That shooter, a 1937 35mm Leica Illa, sold at a Vienna auction over the weekend for 114,000 euros, or about $147,117.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, the man behind the image. WestLicht Photographica

Late photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt used the very camera to shoot his iconic image of a sailor kissing a girl in Times Square on August 14, 1945. Life magazine published the photo a week later.

Eisenstaedt said of the shot: "In Times Square on V-J Day, I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing every girl in sight. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse... I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds."

The photo caused some controversy, as a number of men claimed to be the kissing sailor, a rush that led to extensive photographic analysis of the image long before the Reddit crowd got in on identifying photo subjects and restoring old pics. What's more, some people disputed claims by Edith Shain, who identified herself as the woman in the white dress being kissed.

Auction bids on Eisenstaedt's camera started at 20,000 euros ($25,750). Some 50 years after snapping the Times Square smooch, Eisenstaedt used it to shoot a portrait of President Clinton and his family. It comes with a legal notarized transfer document that traces it from its current owner back to Lu Lu Kaye, Eisenstaedt's sister-in-law.

The auction, held by WestLicht Photographica, featured all kinds of other photographic gems as well, including a camera that belonged to Charles A. Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and a wooden camera from around 1860 that looks to be in astounding condition.

WestLicht Photographica

(Via PetaPixel)