Record Breaking $222,000 Purse Sold at Auction

On Monday, June 1, the most expensive purse to ever be sold at auction fetched $222,000 US at Christie’s in Hong Kong.  The phone bidder won the auction for their bid of $1.72 million Hong Kong dollars.  It will not come as a surprise to fashion lovers that this record breaking handbag is none other than a Hermès Birkin bag.  More than 360 other handbags were auctioned off on Monday, though, this unique Birkin reined supreme.

Celebrities, and fashionistas alike love these famed designer bags; they are the ultimate status symbols one can wear on their arm.  The average Hermès Birkin begins around $7,600.  However, it is not just the price that makes these bags so valuable, there are rumors of yearlong waiting lists for these handmade totes.

The most expensive purse to ever be sold at auction is a decadent, shiny fuchsia crocodile purse that features diamond studded, 18-carat white gold hardware.  This Birkin sold for $222,000, which is four times the average annual US household income.  This purse takes over the most expensive title from the 2011 Birkin record of $203,000.  It is clear that fashionistas have seen designer handbags as collectors’ items for a while now, and the luxury auction houses are beginning to catch on.

This iconic style was inspired by actress, Jane Birkin, when she was seated next to Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Pairs to London in 1981.  Birkin’s flimsy straw bag spilled its contents all over the floor, thus igniting the creative mind of Dumas.  In 1984, Dumas presented Birkin with the one of a kind, supple black leather tote that he created with her in mind.  The bag soon became a fashion sensation.

Not only are these Birkin bags widely regarded for their popular appeal, but Hermès also works to cater to their ultra rich clientele.  The Paris fashion house is known for creating one of a kind Birkin bags with materials from ostrich leather, to crocodile leather, and even to diamonds and gold.  As if the record-breaking handbag mentioned above, made from crocodile leather, 18k-carat white gold, and diamonds, isn’t enough, Hermès went another step further.

Introducing the world’s most expensive Birkin bag, ever.  This one of a kind, 2014 edition Hermès Birkin is worth $432,000, over $200,000 more than the fuchsia crocodile Birkin.  This bag, known as the Diamond Himalayan Birkin, is quite possibly the most rare handbag in the world.
Hermès Himalayan crocodile Birkin bag

The bag boasts many incredible features, beginning with the material.  This bag is made of Nilo crocodile, which has been subtly colored to evoke images of the Himalayan Mountains, hence the bag’s name.  The painstaking dyeing process takes hours to perfect, and the lighter hue of the crocodile skin is even more difficult to process than the darker hue.  The exotic leather is then combined with 18-carat white gold and diamond studded hardware.  The lock that accompanies the bag is composed of 1.64 carats of 40 white round brilliant diamonds, enclosed in 68.4 grams of 18-carat white gold.  The remaining hardware of the bag contains over 200 diamonds, equaling 8.2 carats, brining the total diamond weight of this bag to 9.84 carats.

It is hard to say if another purse will ever be crafted to dethrone either of these Birkin bags.  But if there were to be a challenger, it is safe to assume that Hermès will likely be the name on the label.