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Rare and fully operational Nazi Enigma machine fetches record $365,000 in NY: Bonhams
A rare and fully-functional German Naval four-rotor Enigma enciphering machine (M4), is viewed at Bonhams New York on October 22, 2015. The machine that headlined the auction "Conflicts of the 20th Century" at Bonhams New York on October 21, sold for for $365,000 USD including premium which set a world-record. Representing the scarcest of the German enigma machines, the M4 was built in 1943-45—and up to 150 machines survived from the approximately 1,500 built. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY.

NEW YORK (AFP).- An extremely rare and fully operational Nazi Enigma machine from World War II has sold for $365,000 in New York, setting a new record at auction, Bonhams said Thursday.

The M4 machine, which was built between 1943 and 1945, is one of around 150 to have survived from an estimated 1,500 that were built as Nazi Germany fought to fend off the Allies.

A spokeswoman for Bonhams said the $365,000 sale price set a new world record for an Enigma machine sold at auction. The purchaser at Wednesday's sale was identified only as a private collector.

The M4, with four rotors, is the scarcest of all Enigma encryption machines and was used on naval submarines.

Its manufacture was ordered by German Admiral Karl Doenitz due to concerns that the three-rotor Enigma machine had been compromised following the capture of a U-boat in August 1941.

The model was made rarer still by the sinking of 70 percent of German U-boats in the later stages of World War II, in part due to the breaking of the Enigma code, Bonhams said.

Of the 50 Enigma machines on display in museums around the world, only seven are M4s, taken from captured U-boats, the auction house said.

"The Enigma machine is an exceptional encryption device, one of the most sophisticated and complicated of its type," said Bonhams specialist Tom Lamb.

Bonhams sold a fully operational M3 Enigma machine for $269,000 at auction in New York last April.

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

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