Never-used handbag, featuring diamond details, sells for $298,000
A rare Hermès Birkin handbag with diamonds on its hardware has sold for $298,000, breaking the previous record for a resold handbag of $222,000.
This raises an interesting question. Is the Birkin a handbag or an investment? Most handbags are like cars: They devalue rapidly once purchased. Birkins, and some other Hermès bags, like the Kelly, can be the rare exception if they’re well-maintained; the previous record-breaking bag was also a Birkin.
Road to a Record
- 1. A rare Hermès 35cm Birkin shiny porosus crocodile bag in a fire-engine red called ‘braise’ is manufactured in France in 2008. Its hardware features 10.08 carats of round brilliant-cut diamonds in 171 grams of 18K white gold.
- 2. The bag is sold at a Hermès store in New York City in 2008 to a private American collector for $160,000.
- 3. Jeffrey Berk acquires the never-carried bag in May 2015 from that customer in ‘store fresh’ condition. He sets the sale price at $360,000.
- 4. In November 2015, the bag is shown by appointment aboard a yacht during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
- 5. After two earlier deals fall through, the bag sells in March 2016 for $298,000, beating the former record of $222,000, set at a Christie’s auction in June 2015. (The Christie’s price also included commissions to the auction house.)
- 6. A few days later, the Birkin is delivered by Brinks armored air transport to a Los Angeles buyer’s representative, who describes his client as an American billionaire.
The bag was an investment for Jeffrey Berk, the founder of Boca Raton, Fla.-based reseller Privé Porter. He sold it via a personal representative of the buyer and says he doesn’t know who the buyer is. “Will it go into that warehouse full of crates like in Indiana Jones? I don’t know,” says Mr. Berk.
In 2008, the bag was sold for $160,000 at an Hermès boutique in New York City, according to the original sales receipt. The dealer declines to say how much he paid for the bag, arguing that Christie’s didn’t divulge the profit of the previous record-breaker.
A reseller specializing in Hermès handbags, Privé Porter is on track to sell $24 million of the purses this year, Mr. Berk says. About 90% of his inventory is sold via Instagram, and 60% goes to Asian and Middle Eastern customers.
There is a reason he deals almost exclusively in Hermès. It is the brand most likely to command investment-worthy obsessions. In his experience, “no one is kicking down the door for Chanel,” Mr. Berk says.
Corrections & Amplifications
A rare red Hermès Birkin handbag was shown at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., boat show in November. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the show was in September.
Appeared in the April 14, 2016 print edition as ‘Hermès Birkin Bag Is Resold For $298,000, a New High’