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June 1, 2016
A diamond-embellished Hermès Birkin became the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction when it fetched $300,108 at Christie's Hong Kong on Monday.
Described by Christie's as the "rarest, most sought-after, most valuable" of its kind, the matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin features an 18-karat white gold lock, latch and buckles emblazoned with diamonds weighing a total of 9.84 carats. The bag is made of Nilo crocodile that has been specially dyed to evoke images of the Himalayan mountains. Christie's noted that "only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year…"
Originally manufactured in 2008, the handbag features hardware handset with 245 VVS, F-color diamonds in 174.4 grams of solid 18-karat white gold. The bag outperformed Christie's pre-sale high estimate by more than $40,000.
The Hermès Birkin crushed the short-lived record of a bright pink crocodile skin handbag by Hermès, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 2015 for $220,000. The record-breaking handbag is now the property of an anonymous private collector.
Interestingly, the auction record-setter is less than 1/12 the value of the "1001 Nights Diamond Purse," which was crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 as the most expensive handbag in the world. Created by the Geneva-based House of Mouawad, the $3.8 million heart-shaped bag is encrusted with 4,517 diamonds – 105 yellow, 56 pink and 4,356 colorless — for a diamond total weight of 381.92 carats.
Handcrafted from 18-karat gold, the completion of the 1001 Nights Diamond Purse demanded the skills of 10 artisans, working a total of 1,100 hours over a period of four months.
Images: Hermes Birkin bag photos courtesy of Christie's. Mouawad "1001 Nights Diamond Purse" via mouawad.com.