Jane Birkin has inspired one of the most famous, coveted handbags in the world and the French singer-actress has put her very own Birkin bag up for auction on eBay April 7. With less than two days left to bid (the auction ends April 15), the price has escalated from its start at $2000 to over $14,000.
The lived-in and roughed-up black, leather bag (one of the mere four namesake totes that she owns) — which features stickers and prayer beads from Birkin’s travels on the exterior — is known as a "beater Birkin," to those in the designer consignment and resale business. "This is a bag for someone who wants it to look really used. It is a bag that has been loved and carried a lot," according to Cameron Silver, owner of Decades Boutique in London and Los Angeles, which specializes in designer vintage and resale (with an emphasis on the Hermes' handbags). He adds that if it didn’t belong to Birkin herself, a bag of this quality "should sell for about $6,000."
The Hermes Birkin bag has long been a symbol of style and stature among the fashion elite and Hollywood’s taste-making stars. The infamous tote was designed for and named after Birkin by the head of the design house himself, in 1984. Since then, the Birkin’s popularity has rocketed (Hellcat’s Ashley Tisdale waited two years for hers to arrive) and it can be found adorning the arms of fashion-savvy celebs such as Victoria Beckham (who reportedly has more than 100 different styles and colors) and Ashley Olsen.
"It’s an extremely iconic and revered bag that is still limited in number and prohibited in price point to most people and consequently people want it," notes Silver (who will be the star of Bravo's upcoming reality series, the Untitled Decades Project) of the luxurious item featuring a price-tag valued around $10,000 retail.
Birkin — who will donate the proceeds of the auction to Red Cross efforts in Japan — isn’t fazed by the popularity of her designer, namesake bag. "If people want to go for the real thing, fine. If they go for copies, that’s fine too. I really don’t think it matters," she told Vogue. The fashion icon is too busy traveling and aiding the current situation in Japan — she will appear at the benefit concert "SOS Japan" May 31 — to worry about collecting "it" bags. "I never have more than one bag at a time. I think one is already quite enough."
Despite the current low auction price, many eBay shoppers save hefty bids for the last few minutes of the sale. "I wouldn’t be surprised if Hermes bought it back for their archives or if a major collector picked it up," notes Silver. If so, the bag could sell in the $30,000 range. "There is nothing disposable about a Birkin. They are timeless," he says.