After generating major interest world wide, the most expensive bag ever sold at auction was claimed by its lucky new owner after ten to fifteen minutes of intense bidding. The 2014 Hermès‘ Himalaya Birkin bag sold for a stunning and record breaking $380,000 at an auction at Christie’s Hong Kong outpost. This bid shattered the previous auction record of $300,000, set last year by an auction for another Hermes bag. It is fair to say that Hermes, particularly the Himalaya Birkin bag, dominates the high end market when it comes to luxury bags.
The Holy Grail
What makes the Hermes Himalayan Birkin bag so extremely unique and desirable to luxury hand bag collectors? Auction house Christie’s notes that “the ravishing Hermès Himalaya Birkin Bag is considered the Holy Grail in a Handbag collection.” There are many factors that contribute to the value of this incredibly rare and impeccably made Hermes bag, which is thought to be as sound an investment as gold. To begin with, one must understand that the brand reportedly only makes one to two of the bag each year. The low supply is allegedly because of the amount of time it takes to dye the crocodile leather in this particular style. The limited availability, coupled with the intrigue of not knowing how many exist, adds to the bags collectibility and desirability.
The Himalaya Birkin Bag
According to the acclaimed auction house Christie’s, which has auctioned the top selling Himala Birkin bags this century:
The diamond pieces created by Hermes are exceptional, but none are nearly as iconic as the Himalaya. It is believed that only one or two, of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags…The light colour gradient is characteristic of this early production and is both extremely desirable and quite difficult to find today.
Why The Himalaya Birkin?
The Himalaya Birkin bag is a Nilo crocodile hide with a special dye technique. The “Himalaya” name is due to the lovely gradation of the color. A smoky grey fades perfectly and delicately into a pearly white. The artistry of the technique is meant to invoke the majestic, snow capped Himalayan mountains. The dying process is time consuming and difficult. The process becomes exponentially more difficult as the shades lighten. It takes a keen eye of a skilled artisan to create the dye gradation. The colors go from the immaculate white snow of the peaks to the rocky grey at the base.
In addition to the hard to replicate dye, the Himalayan Birkin has 18-karat gold buckles and 205 diamonds decorating the strap. The bag auctioned off this year was initially predicted to sell for between $193,000 and $258,000. This was actually a bit below the record set by another Himalayn Birkin bag in 2016. After a mere ten to fifteen minutes of bidding, the price exceeded the high end of the predicted range. The winning bid in the end was $380,000.
The previous auction record was also a Himalaya Birkin Bag with white gold and diamond hardware. It sold in 2016 at Christie’s 30th Anniversary Hong Kong auction for the then world record price of $300,168. The Hermes name stands for exclusivity and rarity. The world’s most elite may well see these bags as a better investment than gold. The auction results certainly confirm what many luxury handbag collectors around the globe already know: the Diamond Himalaya Bag is the most desired handbag on Earth.