Photographer Forced to Watch His Stolen Custom-Modified Lens Sell on eBay for $65,100

Photographer Forced to Watch His Stolen Custom-Modified Lens Sell on eBay for $65,100

It’s safe to say having your gear stolen is every photographer’s worst nightmare. So, imagine how this photographer felt watching a thief listing his 50mm custom-modified “dream lens” on eBay with the total landing at $65,100.

The Phoblographer issued a story a number of days ago, warning its audience of the sale, while confirming it was the genuine article due to its matching serial number. They had featured and worked closely with Daniel Zvereff, the rightful owner of the lens. He had it stolen from him while staying in a hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico. He says he awoke on the morning of February 19 to find someone had entered his room during the night and taken his camera bag. His bag contained the prized Canon 50mm f/0.95 as well as a Mamiya 75mm f/3.5 lens.

The eBay listing

Explaining how the situation came to be, he told Phoblographer he was forced to sleep with his hotel room’s windows open due to a broken AC unit. He slept with his camera bag under his bed, but on the night of the robbery, he had simply forgotten to do so.

A week later and having posted of his loss to his Instagram account, a friend brought to his attention a listing on eBay. “[My friend recognized it] just based on how it looked, the conversion is unique,” he told PetaPixel. “It has a leatherette backing on the part that is facing the camera when mounted. It’s a strange design feature. I haven’t seen any other lens like that.”

A photo from Zvereff's camera roll in 2016, showing the serial number of the lens.

The definite giveaway came when the images the seller used for the listing clearly showed the serial number, thus confirming for Zvereff that it was his exact lens. eBay advised he contact the police, but with the auction ending in 15 hours, he was running out of time. A friend wrote about the story for Phoblographer, eventually reaching The Angry Photographer, who tried to intervene with eBay. Despite all attempts to help, the auction finished on Thursday at $65,100, substantially higher than Zvereff says it is worth.

He added:

I think one takeaway from this to me is that it’s been incredible to see the photo community’s response. I think theft is something that we all experience, and as photographers, we tend to spend more on our equipment and treasure the value of these items we painfully sought after to create within our medium.

I don’t expect to get the lens back. And I’m totally OK with it.

Many have noted the selling price was probably falsely driven up by photographers trying to help Zvereff by making sure the seller wasn't paid by the winner. 

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Deleted Account's picture

I find it difficult to believe eBay couldn't do anything about it.

Laszlo Kalman's picture

Trust me, they are the worst... You have to comply with them on everything, but they don't give a fig if you are in a trouble... along with PayPal. As a musician I have whitnessed many friends loosing their instruments by the courtesy of eBay and PayPal...

chrisrdi's picture

Ebay literally does not care. I had an auction up that ebay them selves ended because of a fraudulent bidder bid on my item or what ever and some how that cost me $40. After fighting with ebay about it they did eventually refund my $40. That was the first and last time i ever used ebay.

Joshua Kolsky's picture

Wheres Liam Neeson when you need him

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Forced... True.

Jen Photographs's picture

I saw the article, and I also checked the ebay listing, which had some very specific information like the 6-bit coded and leica mount. They seem like details an average person wouldn't know about or to look for. Was the information etched on the lens?

If this lens was in fact stolen that really sucks. But I'm skeptical about the story.

Jen Photographs's picture

Screenshot of the listing w/ the aforementioned specific info in the title

michael buehrle's picture

ok, so how did it end ?

Shaun Maluga's picture

Hmm the seller has now been banned. I had bought a camera from him last month. Now I’m questioning if it was stolen. I remember checking his other listings and feedback when I bought it because I though there was a chance I would get scammed (delivery time was a month) but it looked like just your general buyer/seller of vintage camera gear. Had lots of camera and lens listings.

Alejandro Ilukewitsch's picture

Hi do you know the name of the seller? Do you mind sharing it? Many (in some mexican blogs) are indentifying the seller as someone who we all contacted and he is saying its not him... i will not put his name here since we have no proof it was him....maybe you send me a private msn? Roberto Barboza is the first person who appear selling the lens in local groups, but that was before ebay. He made his fb account completely private.. we have screen shots, etc.... but for tur ebay seller we have another contact but no proof.

Spy Black's picture

I dunno, seems like there are cards not being shown here.

Aaron Lopez's picture

He should sue eBay. All eBay needed to do was provide the authorities with the tracking number, intercept the package, & refund the buyer’s $65k.

Keith Myers's picture

The buyer was the seller.