A telephone bidder acquired Adolf Hitler's red-painted telephone for $243,000 at a US auction. The auction house described the lot as “arguably the most destructive weapon of all time, which sent millions to their deaths.”
The unidentified North American buyer purchased the World War II artifact from a weekend sale at Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Maryland. The pre-sale estimate was $200,000-300,000.
Inscribed with the Nazi leader's name and a swastika symbol, the customized Siemens phone was found in Hitler's Berlin bunker. Russian officers gifted it to British officer Sir Ralph Rayner after Germany's surrender in May 1945. A newspaper article showing the late Brigadier Rayner with the phone and provenance papers came with the lot.
Described in the auction catalog as "Hitler's mobile device of destruction," the phone was offered by a son of Rayner's, who also consigned a porcelain Alsatian dog statue, made by slave laborers at Dachau concentration camp, and likely presented to Hitler by SS chief Heinrich Himmler. It sold for $24,300.
Ranulf Rayner, 82, inherited the phone and figurine after his father's death in 1977, and kept the pieces hidden away.
"I don't want them to be hidden again," he said to CNN. "I want them to remind the world of the horrors of war."