By now, we’re all used to seeing six-figure price tags for particularly rare versions of exotic Hermès Birkins at auction. Himalayan Crocodile Birkins are especially popular, as are particular shades of bright pink and red in glossy crocodile or alligator; of course, pavé diamond hardware always helps. At Christie’s most recent auction in Paris, though, a never-before-seen thing happened: a non-exotic Birkin broken the three-figure price ceiling.
According to the New York Times, the bag in question is the Hermès Birkin you see above, in metallic bronze chevré leather. The NYT didn’t give the bag’s size, but based on the photo, it looks quite small—my guess is it’s 25cm, a somewhat harder-to-find size that’s quite trendy right now, which likely helped boost interest in the rare piece, which sold for $117,394, after being priced at less than a tenth of that when it was manufactured.
The NYT also reports that the bag was only made one year—2005—and that it was inspired by the work of legendary Hermès window designer Leïla Menchari. Hermès hasn’t produced many metallic Birkins over the years, and the photos of this particular bag are the only ones that come up when you do a Google search for the style, which certainly makes it rarer than some of the exotic Birkins that have become popular on the top-end auction circuit.
Christie’s Matthew Rubinger, senior director of luxury handbags and accessories, said he thinks the market’s thirst for novelty is what made this piece the auction’s most expensive bag, beating out Himalayan Birkins and those with diamond hardware. “It proves that the market is driven by collectors who come for something unique and different.”