A rare Enigma machine used by Nazi Germany during World War II to encrypt messages has been sold to an unnamed online bidder at auction for USD 51,500, five times the starting price.
The collector who put the machine up for sale at the Artmark auction house in Bucharest, Romania, had spotted it at a flea market in the city and bought it for just 100 euros (USD 114).
Vitally important to Nazi war efforts, the Enigma machine was used by the German military to encrypt messages into a form they believed was unbreakable.
But the code was cracked by a team of cryptologists at Bletchley Park in southern England -- a breakthrough widely credited with having shortened the war by at least two years.
The instrument sold yesterday was made in Germany in 1941 and is in almost perfect condition, Vlad Georgescu, relationship manager at Artmark, told CNN.
Enigma machines were used by the German military during World War II to encrypt messages.
"It belonged to a mathematician who has spent most of his life decrypting codes," he said. When he saw it for sale at the flea market, he immediately realised what it was and was "compelled to purchase it," he explained.
According to Georgescu, the previous owner simply did not realise the significance of the item -- he thought it was just a normal typewriter.
Once it was in his possession, the mathematician "started trying to figure out how the machine worked" and spent time cleaning and repairing it.
"He took great care of it," said Georgescu. And he is not surprised that the machine -- which had a starting price of 9,000 euros (USD 10,300) -- sold for such a large sum.
"These machines are very rare, especially entirely functional ones," he explained.
In 2011, an Enigma machine which featured in a Hollywood movie about the Bletchley Park codebreakers was sold in London for a whopping 133,250 pounds (USD 208,137), breaking all previous records, the report said.
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