Another record bites the dust

One of the most disquieting anecdotes I remember hearing about Sept. 11 — and I sincerely hope it was a myth, born in a moment of despair and chaos — concerned some phone calls that the Manhattan Hermes store allegedly received that very morning from fashionable hopefuls wondering if they might have advanced a few tiers on the waiting list for a certain coveted handbag. The accessory in question was the iconic Kelly bag, and it just made history again — exactly one day after the sixth anniversary of the tragedy.

Last week, Christie’s London auctioned off the most expensive handbag ever sold, for 31,200 pounds sterling, or almost $65,000, roughly three times its original estimate. The bag has been described, intriguingly, as “Louise McBain’s handbag,” and in more technical parlance, as a “Rouge ‘H’ Crocodile Kelly Bag with Gilt Hardware.” Unlike Mr. Hirst’s diamond skull, this is a documented sale (98% of the lots found buyers at the sale, entitled From City Chic to Alpine Retreat, Holland Park and St.Moritz), and it will certainly be interpreted as a sign — but a sign of what?

2 thoughts on “Another record bites the dust”

  1. I guess this means a provenance in the art world applies to everything.

    I can see paying a lot for Grace Kelly’s original bag since she’s the one who made it famous, but is the person who bought this one some Louise McBain stalker/adorer who wants to keep art world provenance intact? or was it just some really rich gal who is sick of being on a 5-10 year waiting list for one of these things – and this one happens to be a particularly good Kelly bag?

    Who put it up for sale? Ms. McBain herself? Why?

  2. I heard a similar rumor regarding NYC apartments made available by 9/11 deaths. Another example of callousness occasioned by a super competitive market: checking the obit pages to find a rent stabilized apartment.

    The idea of this particular Kelly being “Louise McBain’s handbag” brings up issues of provenance usually reserved to the arena of sports memorabilia. For example, the ball and bat associated with Barry Bonds’ new home run record. Could this be why András titles the thread “Another record bites the dust”? I assume potential steroid use is not an issue here.

    But I’m undoubtedly the wrong one to comment on high end handbags. I generally lug my Crumpler messenger bag to museums and galleries. It is a more practical carryall for press materials and catalogs. So I will have to defer to the ladies on this one.

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