M4 Enigma machine sold for world record price at Bonhams
Bonhams has set a new world record price for a WWII Enigma code machine at auction.
The highly rare and fully operational Enigma machine was amongst the star lots of the company's Conflicts of the 20th century Sale in New York.
The example on offer was one of the highly rare M4 machines, created specifically for use by the German Navy.
When the Allies captured the U-570 submarine in August 1941, German high command suspected that codes created using the three-rotor machines may have been compromised. They were correct, as an M3 Enigma machine recovered from the craft had been used by the team at Bletchley Park to decipher the most recent Nazi messages.
In response the Nazis built around 1,600 M4 machines with four rotors, creating codes with an even higher level of encryption, to be used aboard German U-boats.
During the later stages of the war up to 70% of all German submarines were sunk, taking their M4 Enigma machines with them, and many more were destroyed by retreating German forces to prevent them falling into enemy hands.
Today they are highly rare, with just seven examples on display in museums around the world. The example offered at Bonhams in New York was made all the rarer by the fact it remained in remarkable working condition.
It eventually sold for $365,000, setting a new world record price for an Enigma machine and smashing the previous record of $269,000 set at Bonhams in April 2015.
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