Hermès Birkin Tops Inaugural Designer Handbags Sale in Finale to Bonhams Luxury Week

Bonhams' new Designer Handbags and Fashion department, which launched this year, held its inaugural Designer Handbags & Fashion sale in the Knightsbridge saleroom today (Thursday 16 July), which provided a fitting end to Bonhams Luxury Week. The top lot of the sale was a Matt Geranium Alligator Birkin 35 by Hermès which achieved £25,062.

Head of Department Meg Randell, who was on the rostrum throughout the 245-lot sale, commented; "I'm very pleased with the results of our first Designer Handbags and Fashion sale. We offered a wonderful curated selection showcasing luxury labels, including Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Gucci, so it's no surprise that such desirable pieces attracted such competitive bidding."

Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermès designed the Birkin bag in 1984 after a chance encounter with the English model, singer and actress Jane Birkin. The story goes that the two were seated together on a flight when Birkin complained of how she could not find a bag large enough to carry her daughter, Lou's bottles – so Demas sketched the first ideas of the Birkin bag on the back of an Air France paper bag. Hermès would name the bag "the Birkin" and the rest is history.

Other Highlights included:

• Monogram Wardrobe Trunk, Louis Vuitton, early 20th century. Sold for £10,062. From the headquarters of the Thomas Cook travel company in London, this was the final lot in the auction.
• Tourterelle Ostrich Leather Birkin 35, Hermès, c. 2006, Sold for £8,812.
• Ebene Vache Ligee Birkin 30, Hermès, c. 2006, Sold for £7,562
• Cream Crocodile Jumbo Double Flap Bag, Chanel, c. 2012-13, Sold for £7,562.
• Black Box Mini Constance 18, Hermès, c. 2019, Sold for £7,562.
• Anemone Togo and Swift Ghillies Birkin 35, Hermès, c. 2014, Sold for £6,312.
• Pink Patchwork Jumbo Single Flap Bag, Chanel, c. 2017, Sold for £3,437.
• Turner Neverfull MM, Jeff Koons for Louis Vuitton, limited edition Masters Collection c. 2017, Sold for £2,295.

In 2017 American Artist Jeff Koons created a collection of Louis Vuitton bags that were literally covered in art. Koons printed Old Master paintings, by Leonardo Da Vinci, Fragonard and Turner onto the canvas of signature handbags for his 'Masters' collection. Lot 5 featured a painting by JMW Turner printed on the side of a Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote, a love-letter between classical art and fashion.

• Red PVC Keepall Bandoulière 50, Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, c. 2019, Sold for £2,167.

Creator of high-end streetwear brand Off-White, Virgil Abloh, took over as director of menswear at Louis Vuitton in 2018, and his reinterpretations of classic designs, such as the overnight Keepall bags, have become extremely collectable. By keeping the basic design of the Keepall the same but changing just the material of the bags, from canvas and leather, to PVC, Abloh modernised these signature pieces. The use of bright colours makes reference to Abloh's background in street fashion.

• Stephen Sprouse Graffiti Speedy 30, Louis Vuitton, c. 2001, Sold for £1,275.

When Marc Jacobs was appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton in 1997, he set about refreshing the heritage brand to make it youthful and accessible to a modern audience. One of Jacobs most revolutionary ideas was to invite contemporary artists to add their twists to some of the signature pieces within the heritage collection, to create something new, exciting and rare. Punk artist Stephen Sprouse (1953-2004), was the first artist invited by Louis Vuitton to deface the hallowed Monogram design. Sprouse added his neon graffiti graphics to bags such as the Alma, Speedy, and Keepall as well as to accessories such as silk scarves, injecting a New York rebellious aesthetic not seen before at Vuitton.

The sale marked the end of Bonhams Luxury Week, which also included:

London Jewels, Tuesday 14 July, New Bond Street, London

Highlights included a fancy-coloured single-stone diamond ring, which sold for £87,563, a diamond single-stone ring, mounted by Cartier, sold for £82,563, and a diamond cluster ring by Graff, which sold for £52,563

Knightsbridge Jewels, Wednesday 16 July, Knightsbridge, London

Highlights included a pair of ruby and diamond 'Halo' earrings, by Graff, which sold for £15,062, a diamond three-stone ring, by De Beers, sold for £15,062, and a pair of emerald, cultured pearl and gem-set pendent earrings, which sold for £13,812.

Fine Clocks, Wednesday 15 July, New Bond Street, London

Highlights included a skeleton clock made by Camerer Cuss & Co to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, which sold for £97,563. It had been estimated at £10,000-15,000. In total, the sale made £498,000 with 77% sold by lot and 85% sold by value.

Other highlights included one of only two known regulators by Thomas Reid incorporating his spring pallet escapement and pendulum. The clock was a wedding present from the Directors and Senior Officials of the Royal Bank of Scotland to Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott, later Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (1901-2004). It sold for £47,563 (estimate £10,000-15,000). An early 19th century month-going, grande sonnerie striking Vienna 'Lanterndl-Uhr' regulator by A. Liszt, Vienna sold for £27,563 (estimate £3,000-5,000).

Rare and Fine Wines, Thursday 16 July, New Bond Street, London

Bonhams Rare and Fine Wines sale on Thursday 16 July in London saw an impressive 88% sold by lot and 92% sold by value. Highlights included six bottles of Pétrus 1999, Pomerol, which sold for £10,370, four bottles of Chateâu la Mission Haut-Brion 1945, Pessac-Léognan Cru Classé, sold for £8,540, and three bottles of Chambolle-Musigny 1ER CRU, Les Amoureuses 2002, Domaine G. Roumier, which sold for £7,320.

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