Where is Jane Birkin’s Birkin bag? Auction, collector and secret price: clues | People

“This is not a bag, this is a Birkin!” This phrase entered popular culture through Sex and the City, said Hermès saleswoman to Samantha Kim Cattrall, who doesn’t understand how difficult it is to get her hands on perhaps the most coveted and mysterious model in fashion. Its history is full of rumors and myths. The much talked about waitlist, a topic the brand refuses to talk about, perhaps aware of the power of rumors, is due to the fact that the pace of its production has not kept pace with demand. In an effort to clarify the truth, Michael Tonello wrote a book in 2009. Bringing home Birkina book in which he claims that it only took him three months to produce 130 examples of the model.

Despite Tonello’s words, the Birkin craze has only grown, especially thanks to resale platforms. Vestiaire Collective notes that searches for Hermès Birkin were up an average of 20% last year compared to searches in 2021. “Since the beginning of 2022, sales of Hermès handbags have increased by 15% compared to the same period last year. January 2022 saw the highest growth, reaching 40% year-on-year,” they said.

“On the one hand, we are faced with the legend of inaccessibility that surrounds them, and the truth is that they are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. This makes people want them even more. When you go to a Hermés store to buy a bag, the brand wants you to know its tradition, history, quality and everything that stands behind the brand. They want you to get to know the brand and experience their products. In fact, if you buy other things, you’ll be more likely to buy a Birkin. That’s why they want people to turn to the brand: they’re the ones who decide whether you’re “worthy of an Hermès bag.” You may have to go three or four times to get one. Without a doubt, it is a status symbol,” says Virginia Ibáñez Dionisio, founder of La Agencia Secreta, which sources items from luxury brands.

Jane Birkin at the 2005 Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show wearing a Hermès Birkin bag.Michelle Dufour (WireImage)

The popular bag was created in honor of Jane Birkin. On a flight from Paris to London with then-Hermès owner Jean-Louis Dumas, the actress told him she had never found her dream bag. In 1983, three years after an informal conversation, the most popular fashion design was born. Few people know who this bag belongs to. This is Catherine Besnier, a famous collector, lover of vintage Hermès and Chanel models and owner of part of the archives of the aforementioned French fashion houses. Catherine B, as she is known, is the owner of Les 3 Marches, a small Parisian boutique that has become a temple for fashionistas, frequented by celebrities such as Cameron Diaz.

She has owned the Birkin bag for 23 years and refuses to say how much she paid for the bag at the second auction: Jane Birkin auctioned it herself in 1994 to raise money for an AIDS charity. “No one knew where it went since then, and I never imagined it would ever come up for auction again,” explains Catherine B. in an interview published on the Christie’s auction website. “In 2000, a friend from a Paris auction house told me she had something I needed to see. When I left, she took the bag out of the safe. This was the same man I had seen a thousand times in photographs on Jane Birkin’s arm. I knew it had to be mine,” she admits. “When I received it, the first thing I thought about was how I was going to pay for it. But I already sold some other things to buy them.” “I’ve always liked old things that tell a story,” she added.

Catherine Bee poses with an original Birkin.

She assured then that she would never sell it. However, recently when asked again, she responded to the STYLE NOT COM Instagram account with a cryptic “Who knows?” She said it was never her intention to make a profit from reselling the bag as it was “a piece of fashion and design history.” In fact, it saddens her that so many people buy luxury goods and plan to resell them, as she believes that any investment without passion has no future. In her own store, she makes sure that her purchases and sales are guided by her heart, not her wallet. She went so far as to reject things that she knew would sell but that she didn’t believe in.

Katherine B. “Who Knows?” makes us wonder how much this bag might cost. Time A magazine argued a few years ago that a Birkin bag is a better investment than gold. “Considering that one of the three original bags sold for over €110,000 ($115,500) in 2013, imagine the price 10 years later! Some parameters to consider: Hermès is a symbol of luxury and the wearer is an icon, adding history and rarity to the bag. The fame of the Birkin bag has surpassed that of the actress Jane,” explains Arnaud Maillard, an expert on vintage clothing.

People on the street were able to get a close-up look at Birkin’s original in 2020 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where the piece became ground zero Bags: Inside Out exhibition. It was previously exhibited at MoMA. Ekaterina herself explained to STYLE NOT COM the condition of the bag. “When I got my hands on it, it was in reasonable condition considering how Jane used her bags. The design was made to live and travel with her, and that’s exactly what it did. I didn’t touch it or modify it at all. I even left her nail clippers inside,” assured Katherine B., noting that since she was considered a museum piece, she was handled and stored as such.

On her Instagram profile, she didn’t hesitate to post a picture of the bag, tired of hearing so many stories about the bag, “all crazier than the others.” “I present here the original Birkin in a black box with a permanent strap and the initials JB, released in 1985,” she wrote under the photo.

Will we ever know where the first Birkin is and will it eventually be auctioned off? Maillard doesn’t think so. “Knowing her, I know she won’t want to part with the original model. I think her daughter will inherit this treasure, full of stories and emotions,” he says. If this were true, it would horrify Birkin herself. She once said that owning one of her mother’s Birkins seemed terrible to her, which is why her daughter Lou never owned one of them.

Several Birkin models are ready to be auctioned at Christie’s.Cindy Ord (Getty Images)

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