File this one under, “what lousy economy?” Earlier this week, an anonymous collector shelled out $203,150 for a purse.
Sold at the Heritage Auction house in Dallas, the purse is a Red Hermès crocodile Birkin-style handbag, with "hardware" – that is, the buckles, clasps and so on – made from solid 18-karat white gold and diamonds. The 30 cm tote is a world record setter for the most expensive purse ever sold at a public auction.
If any bag was going to hold such a record, it was bound to be a Hermès Birkin. Since its creation in 1984, the bag has been the ultimate symbol of lavish spending, luxury fashion, and exclusivity. Hermès, a high-end fashion brand, manufactures all of their leather goods by hand; the company boasts that each item is constructed start to finish by the same leather craftsman. One bag may take between 18 and 24 hours to produce.
There used to be a six-year waiting list for a Birkin, but it was cleared in 2010, ostensibly making the bag available to anyone who could afford it. Depending on materials used, Birkin bags can cost anywhere between $9,000 and $150,000.
The mind-boggling price of the Heritage auction bag owes to its construction materials: crocodile leather, 18-karat gold, and diamonds. According to a spokesman for Heritage Auction house, the bag was expected to go for much less – about $80,000. Two other crocodile Birkin bags were sold at the same auction, for $113,525 and $95,600.
The purses are collectors items, so don’t expect to spot them hauling around cell phones and car keys anytime soon.