HERMES BIRKIN BAG SELLS FOR $64,800
Two Centuries of Fashion History by the World’s Legendary Couturiers
On Wednesday, April 20, 2004, Doyle New York held an auction of Couture, Textiles and Accessories showcasing two centuries of fashion history. Offering an extensive selection of dresses, suits and ensembles, the sale also included important costume jewelry, handbags and accessories, as well as American, European and Asian textiles. Highlighting the sale was an extraordinary Hermes black crocodile Birkin bag that sold for an astounding $64,800. Comprising a total of 377 lots, the sale achieved a strong $460,080 with 82% sold by lot and 91% sold by value.
SINGLE-OWNER COLLECTION OF HERMES HANDBAGS
Attracting strong international interest at the auction was a single-owner collection of eleven luxurious handbags by Hermes, most in immaculate condition. The highlight of the collection was a breath-taking black crocodile Birkin that had been customized with a clasp and lock featuring over 14 carats of pave diamonds set in white gold. The object of an extraordinary amount of interest during the exhibition, the handbag also attracted intense competition among telephone bidders at the auction, sending the bag soaring over its pre-sale estimate of $25,000-35,000 to reach $64,800. Other Hermes bags from the same collection attracted similar competition during the sale. These included an Hermes royal blue ostrich Birkin bag that sold for $15,600; an Hermes Etrusque crocodile Kelly bag that sold for $13,200; an Hermes black crocodile Kelly bag that sold for $12,000; and an Hermes anthracite crocodile Kelly bag that sold for $10,200 — all over their pre-sale estimates.
Highlighting the couture section of the auction were, interestingly enough, the oldest and the most recent offerings in the sale. An opulent velvet and fur trimmed trained kimono by John Galliano was the most recent item in the sale. Made of ivory silk velvet, it had been stenciled with mauve peonies, lined in white sheared mink, and trimmed in rare Russian lynx. It dated only to 1998, yet it fetched a strong $6,000 at the sale. The oldest lot in the auction was a charming 1815 aqua silk American Empire redingote discovered in a trunk in Savannah, Georgia. This dress had originally belonged to Julia Clark Taylor (1799-1846). Portraits of her parents in law, William and Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller Taylor, painted by John Wesley Jarvis, hang in the Colonial Dames Georgia Headquarters, housed in the Andrew Low House in Savannah. This American rarity sold to a New York bidder for $5,100.
Another highlight of the Couture section was a vibrant pink strapless draped gown of silk chiffon by Jean Desses. Several years ago, Doyle New York auctioned a similar 1960 draped gown by Desses in canary yellow silk chiffon. Subsequent to the auction, that gown was chosen by actress Renee Zellweger to wear as a presenter to the annual Academy Awards ceremony, and she won kudos from the international fashion media for her extraordinary choice. Competitive bidding at the April 20 sale sent the vibrant pink gown well over its pre-sale estimate to reach a strong $5,700.
Other outstanding pieces in the couture section included designs by Jacques Fath consigned by a New York Lady. A bouffant dress of black lace over blush pink silk tulle sold for $4,500; a silk two-piece evening dress comprising a black silk voile blouse and an emerald silk floor-length skirt also sold for $4,500; and a black taffeta two-piece dress with a fitted blouse and voluminous skirt sold for $3,600. >From the same collection were two dresses by Marcel Rochas that proved popular at the sale. An ivory strapless dress of lace patterned chenille with a black velvet ribbon crossover sold for $3,600 and a stunning emerald velvet gown with an affixed silk taffeta stole and matching velvet gloves sold for $3,300. Property from other owners included designs by Balenciaga, Gres, Paquin, Oleg Cassini, Thea Porter, Fortuny, Dior, Jay Thorpe, Geoffrey Beene, and Yves Saint Laurent, among many others.