From cleaning ladies to the Queen, most women know that the most indispensable of all accessories is the handbag. Whether it is a typical granny bag with space for everything but the kitchen sink, or a chic designer clutch purse, a handbag can often be a girl’s saving grace.
More than being something purely functional, a good quality handbag can make a powerful statement, especially when that bag features a Chanel, Hermès, or Katherine Bauman label. Such bags are sold at top price from designer studios and boutiques, and the most sought-after of them fetch incredible amounts of money at the world’s most prestigious action houses. Prepare to be astounded by a few of the most expensive handbags in the world.
Diamond-studded Hermès Himalaya
2017 was the year in which Christie’s Hong Kong saw the record for the most expensive bag sold on auction shattered. Not that this is new to the auction house, which had also presided over the previous record-setting handbag auctions.
Sold to an anonymous bidder who participated by telephone, the white crocodile Hermès Himalaya studded with an unbelievable 10.23 carats-worth of diamonds went for roughly a whopping $5,136,700. The previous record was also set by a diamond-encrusted Hermès Himalaya, which sold for $364,900.
Hermès Himalaya, Hold the Diamonds
If diamond handbag cladding sounds a little too garish for you, Christie’s Paris auctioned off what would be the perfect alternative in December last year.
The bag in question was yet another white crocodile Hermès Himalaya devoid of diamonds. The auction house set the bag’s guide price in the catalogue between $94,200 and $125,600. Practically pocket-change, compared to the prices fetched by the diamond-studded versions.
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Chanel Matryoska Doll
Some of the world’s most expensive handbags can significantly reduce the risk of finding yourself in a Who Wore It Better scenario. Those bags are incredibly limited-edition pieces made for fashion shows by the most exclusive labels.
One of the most enchanting of these to appear on the Christie’s Paris auction was a Chanel bag that featured in the 2012 Paris-Bombay Metier d’art autumn/winter collection. In the form of a Russian Matryoska doll, the bag’s guide price was set between $6,280 and $9,400.
Baumann’s Crystal Bags
While not as well-known as fashion houses such as Hermès, Chanel, or even cult designer Judith Leiber, Katherine Baumann’s limited-edition handbags are highly collectible while being somewhat more affordable.
Among those on the Christie’s Paris December 2017 auction were Baumann’s crystal-studded handbags in the shape of a bottle of Perrier Jouet champagne, a can of Coca-Cola, and a tin of Campbell’s soup. Auctioned as a lot of there, the bags’ guide price was set between $2,300 and $3,900.
These pricey purses are but a drop in an ocean of exclusively expensive handbags. Things really have come a long way since the auction house’s 1978 inaugural designer handbag sale, which saw a $800 Coco Chanel bag go to the Smithsonian Institute.
What is the most you would be willing to pay for a handbag?