LOS ANGELES, July 29, 2020 – The Sony video camera used by George Holliday to record the Los Angeles Police Department’s beating of Rodney King on March 3, 1991 will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on July 30, 2020.
One of the seminal events of the 20th century, the Rodney King video was the first of its kind as a viral video and as such, shocked the world; it’s still considered the most important viral video of all time. Its influence on nearly every aspect of American and global culture can’t be overstated, affecting people’s perceptions of race and police use of force, leading to the depiction of similar events in film and television, and inspiring countless people to bravely hold up their own cameras to record troubling events.
Holiday recorded the King beating just after midnight on March 3rd. The following day, he called the LAPD from his office, but they were not helpful. He then contacted KTLA. That evening, after work, a camera crew from KTLA interviewed Holliday and his wife at their home, and the footage then ran Monday night.
Americans were stunned to see the excessive beatings carried by the LAPD. On March 10, the Los Angeles Times released a poll stating 92% of those who had seen the King clip thought the LAPD used excessive force against King.
Although the public had seen examples of police violence before, most notably during the 1960s, those images were most often taken, edited and curated by professional news outlets, and at the time of 1991 seemed a distant memory. Nothing as raw as unedited, uncontrolled video taken by a regular citizen had ever before been witnessed by the public all over the world, confirming what many argued was commonplace in their communities. What resulted was a firestorm, with the video taken that night not only leading to the 1992 Los Angeles riots a year later when the officers were acquitted, but also laying the groundwork for the anti-police brutality movements such as Black Lives Matter that are so relevant today. Holliday’s stunning footage inspired the usage of cell phones today to record police abuse as seen recently with George Floyd’s murder.
The Sony Video8 Handycam CCD-F77 is identified with the serial number 63299, and includes original accessories of the Sony AC power adapter AC-V16 with the serial number H163476, and the AA battery case EBP-55. The batteries have been removed to protect the camera, which is no longer functional. The videotape of the beating is not included. The foam cover of the camera microphone is almost completely deteriorated, which is the condition in which the FBI returned the camera to George Holliday circa 2015. The camcorder remains in very good condition otherwise, an excellent visual example of the pre-smart phone video cameras in use during the 1990s.
The camera comes with a notarized letter of authenticity by the consignor George Holliday, who says of the event: ”I hope this video camera inspires people to use their power to record events that they find troubling. Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Bidding for the camera begins at $225,000.
Additional information on the camera can be found at