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.
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.”
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.
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.