The handbag that costs as much as a house

Getty Images

How much is a purse of the value? Say £100? Maybe £500? Maybe even £ 1,000?

How about the awarding of more than $380,000(£279,000) for a bag and a second hand one at that?

For this price, you could buy a house in the UK (where the average housing costs of £223,285, according to the Halifax) and still have plenty left.

Yet, surprisingly, last year, someone has to pay an amount of money for a rare 2014 Himalayan Birkin – a matte white, handbag by Hermes.

It has been fashioned from Nilo crocodile hide and features 18 karat white gold and diamond-encrusted details.

All £279,000 is a record number of awards for this “holy grail” of the handbags, it is a drop in the ocean, when it comes to the increasingly lucrative market for buying and selling pre-owned luxury “arm of furniture.”

Top of the range bags have come a long way since the days when Princess Grace of Monaco used a Hermes Sac a depeches to hide her baby bump from the paparazzi. It was later renamed the Kelly bag after the ex-Hollywood star.

Expensive handbags are now ubiquitous amongst celebrities, such as reality TELEVISION personalities Kim Kardashian West and her mother Kris Jenner.

However, these bags are not frivolous trinkets.

Getty Images

Auction house Christie’s, said the global opportunity luxury handbag market rose to a value of £5.1 m in 2011 to € 26 million in 2016.

Heritage Auctions believes that the world secondary market of auctions for the “ultra-high-end bags” is between $75 million and $100 million”and growing”.

In terms of investment, these assets can offer a great return on your money.

The investment bank Jefferies estimates that some bags can generate returns of around 30% per year.

Handbags made by Hermès, the French luxury goods house, are the most sought after.

Rachel Koffsky, a specialist in handbags and accessories at Christie’s, said Hermes handbags “have been designed in the same way, in the same materials for decades, while many other brands have been inconsistent production over the last 100 years”.

She adds that the three most well-known bags Kelly, Birkin, singer and actress, Jane Birkin, and the Constance, named after the fifth child of Hermes designer Catherine Chaillet – “have remained virtually unchanged since they were designed”.

However, Jefferies said: “Over the next 10 to 20 years, luxury brands have increasingly been able to increase the selling price of their handbags and to use more high end materials, so, in the future, the top of the market is likely to become less dominated by the house of Hermès.”

Heritage Auctions said that as Hermès, Chanel’s iconic flap bags “are always a favourite for the paparazzi to catch on the arms of celebrities of the most famous in the world.”

Ms Koffsky adds that, in the 1990s, the two designers have been responsible for the advent of “the era of the “It-bag” of Tom Ford at Gucci and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton.

These, with the characters of the TV series Sex and the City, “a collection of bags to hand in the system”.

It also means that the somewhat intimidating world of auction houses to open another type of customer.

Ms Koffsky said: “hand Bags have a very wide appeal and is a category most consumers are more comfortable when compared to traditional flat or even decorative art.”

Jefferies said that handbags are of the more “accessible” category at Christie’s because of the lower cost lots, adding that 40% of the 712 purchasers of this category have been new to the auction house.

Getty Images

Heritage Auctions said that there is no typical profile of the buyer. They can range from people who want to add to their collection of handbag – or those who would like to start.

Ms Koffsky said very often, buyers become sellers and vice versa.

She said: “At the end of the summit of the purchaser of the spectrum, we have collectors who count their handbags among their most valuable assets. At the other end, we have a young and savvy consumers in search of a vintage piece that will stand out from current trends, often it is much less than the retail.

“Maybe it is their first time buying at auction.”

However, while the handbags have attracted a new clientele, it is not a world open to everyone.

A new Kelly or Birkin bag can cost around £7,000 each – if you can get your hands on a brand new Chanel classic mini flap bag costs $3,300(£2,392).

Getty Images

The choice of a second-hand bag that can hang up a buyer a good deal, but these are not accessories within the reach of all.

Flavio Cereda, an analyst at Jefferies, said that Hong Kong has become a hot spot for high-end handbags.

Forbes has recently reported that the total wealth of Hong Kong millionaires soared by $60bn $307bn last year – the biggest increase for one of Forbes Asia’s 50 list.

Christie said 46% of his purse, luxury auction sales are in Asia, in 2017, followed by the united states to 30%, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 24%.

It is not a coincidence that these two rare Himalayan Birkins bags have been sold at auction in Hong Kong.

These are the type of handbags that to make good investments, ” says Ms. Koffsky.

“For a positive return on investment, in limited and numbered series parts stand out as they are only created in a very limited run,” she said.

“The less coins are available on the secondary market, all the more so that the collector to spend the money to get a hold of.”