Luxury Handbags Are Now the Fastest Growing Collectible

Courtesy Art Market Research

Move over, classic cars and Van Gogh paintings.

If you’ve ever treated yourself to a pricey handbag with the excuse that it’s a good investment, you may actually be on the right track. Purses, it turns out, are no longer mere fashion accessories, but extremely valuable assets. So valuable, in fact, that they have surpassed art, classic cars, and rare whiskey in terms of their long-term value. This is according to a new report by the London-based Art Market Research (AMR) which analyzed among other things ten years’ worth of sales data and the average customer spending at the 12 leading auction houses in 2019.

Courtesy Art Market Research

Related: The Best Tips for Buying Vintage Designer Handbags

Of course, not all handbags are created equal. The holy grail of any handbag collection is the Himalaya Birkin by Hermès, crafted from Nile crocodile hide. Earlier this month, a rare white Himalaya Niloticus Birkin purchased in 2016 sold for an eye-popping GBP 125,000, or about $153,000 at a Christie’s online auction—almost double of its initial estimate range of $73,700-$98,000.

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AMR found that Birkin bags increased their value on average 42 percent since 2019. For comparison, Banksy’s works increased “only” 23 percent for the same period. Another iconic Hermès handbag style, the Kelly, has also recorded a pretty steep increase in value—129 percent over ten years.  

Related: What to Know About Buying Luxury Vintage

Last year alone, over 3,700 designer handbags were sold at auctions around the globe generating more than $32 million, according to the report.

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Auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s now hold regular handbag auctions. So if you’re ready to start bidding, the London-based Bonham’s is having its inaugural handbag auction on July 16 and among the highlights are a rare Louis Vuitton luggage trunk dating from the early 20th century, alligator and ostrich Birkin bags, several Kelly handbags, as well as beautiful Chanel flap bags.