A day with Caitlin’s workhorse Birkin and some seriously gorgeous bags from the Christie’s vault

Name
Caitlin Donovan

Occupation
Vice President/ Head of Sale, Handbags & Accessories

Instagram
@christieshandbags & @raisindonovan

Tell us about your bag:
Hermès Black Vache Liegee Birkin 30 with Gold Hardware from 1997. Bought on secondary market.

Describe your Job and Responsibilities:
As a Christie’s specialist my job entails working with private clients across the US who are looking to curate their collections, buying and selling. As Head of Sale, I work to curate the 2-3 times per year New York Handbags & Accessories auctions – consignment getting, and then working alongside my wonderful Christie’s team to catalog, market and sell the sales to our global clientele. I spend much of the year traveling, heading overseas during our Hong Kong and London auctions to assist US clients participate in these global sales. In between auction season, traveling across the US to participate in Private Sale and cross category Christie’s events.

Your 3 Favorites from this online auction and why?
Naming a favorite bag is like naming a favorite child, almost impossible. I appreciate each bag for their unique identity and characteristics. With that said, three of my favorite pieces in the current online sale are the following:

Tangerine Lizard Birkin 25 with Palladium Hardware
With the evolution of trends and a shift toward petite iterations, the Birkin 25 has become considered by many to be the most desired size. Lizard is amongst the rarest of mediums, and in bright tangerine, a beautiful seasonally transitional color. All factors paired together on the iconic Birkin bag make this one of the most collectible pieces in the sale.

Shiny Bleu Electrique Porosus Crocodile Mini Constance 18 with Gold Hardware
Each season Hermès releases a variety of perfectly dyed hues, some becoming the fast favorites of collectors and connoisseurs of the brand. Bleu Electrique is amongst the most coveted of Hermès shades, and in the finest skin Hermès utilizes, Porosus Crocodile, this Constance is a very special piece for a top collector.

Runway Black Lamskin Leather & Lucite Frame Flap Bag with Antique Gold Hardware
Karl Lagerfeld uses his runway accessories to playfully reinterpret everyday objects masterfully, creative, cheeky and beautiful handbags which are coveted on both the primary and secondary market. A classic flap bag mounted on a plexi frame, this bag is a celebration of Lagerfeld’s whimsical creativity, and one of my favorite Chanel pieces in the sale.

The most insane bag you’ve ever seen?
Every time I see a Hermès Diamond Himalaya Bag I take a moment to appreciate the incredible craftsmanship. Exotic and rare bags from brands such as Hermès and Chanel are more than utilitarian objects, rather wearable works of art.

You see a lot of bags that fetch very high hammer prices. What makes a bag special?
There are a number of factors which make a bag special – rarity, medium, style, provenance, condition, etc. – and when you find a piece that combines a number of these traits, it is no surprise we see record breaking prices at auction. An example of an extraordinary result from our recent Hong Kong Auction was the sale of the Hermès S.O. Black Nilo Crocodile Birkin, which had an estimate of $52,000 – $64,000 and sold for $176,116.

Your Dream Bag?
I think there is nothing more beautiful or chic than a Hermès Sellier Kelly in Calfbox Leather with Gold Hardware.

Tips for our readers on shopping Christie’s online auctions
Whether you’re a first time auction buyer looking for a deal on a vintage steal, or a top handbag collector, looking for one of the rarest and sought after exotic skin bags in the world, there is something for you in an online Handbags auction. Don’t be intimidated by the auction house name, online auctions are intuitive and can be the best place to score your newest addition to your growing handbags collection.

Favorite Food Spot in NYC?
As a born and bred New Yorker, I have so many! But if I must choose, one of my all-time favorite local spots is Il Cantinori in Greenwich Village.

What are some cool perks of your job?
Travel. And of course, the closets.

What are some of the factors that will cause a bag to exceed the expected price? Any particular outlier that stood out in your career?
The same qualities that make a bag special are often the factors that lead to a bag exceeding the expected auction estimate. When a bag is rare and released in limited quantity on the primary market, clients are forced to procure these coveted pieces on the secondary, auction, market. For rare pieces, competitive bidding by multiple top collectors can often result in high final prices. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a handful of auctions in my career with handbags that have broken records for the most expensive bag of their kind ever sold.

Are there ever deals to be had? Any examples you can think of?
Absolutely. I steer all emerging collectors to the wonderful deals to be had in every auction. Other than coveted collector’s pieces, we always have a wide offering of vintage and designer bags in beautiful condition for sale at the fraction of their current retail prices.

You deal with a lot of handbag collectors. What’s one of the most insane bag closets you’ve ever been in?
I’ve seen many beautiful collections and closets in my day, no two the same. Every closet that holds a client’s collection is artistic and special in its own right.

What’s In Your Bag Today?
Tom Ford Sunglasses
Goyard Wallet
Goyard Beauty Pouch
With Daily Essentials: Bigelow Lip Gloss, Ouai Anti-Frizz Hair Sheets, Valmont Eye Crème, Biologique Recherche Moistuizer
Celine (extra set) of Earrings
Mophie Charge Pack
Current Auction Catalog

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