Finally, a place to get your Birkins on the cheap! Well, not cheap but way less than retail and certainly reseller pricing. The catch? Well there are several. For starters, the prior owner was a criminal, as these bags were confiscated by the authorities. Second, purchasing is by auction, so you may not win the item. Third – and this is a big one given the prior owner – there’s no authenticity guarantee. Finally, for many of us in the United States, there’s a language barrier, as you’ll quickly discover that (unsurprisingly) the site in 100% in Chinese.
So, here’s the deal. In 2012 e-commerce giant Alibaba established a “judicial sale” where Court judges sell confiscated items. According to one report, by 2019, virtually all courts in China had registered with site taobao to conduct livestream auctions. And yes, it says the judges are the actual auctioneers.
A recent wwd.com story provided more current details. The ultimate HGB – a white niloticus crocodile Himalayan Birkin sold in November 2020 for $63,720 on the judicial auction site Sifa Paimai (which we assume is or is related to the taobao site). A similar bag (we assume) sold at Sothebys in 2019 for $139,944.
Now, we can assure you that that bag did not decline in value by over half. A white himalaya birkin is coveted by many and owned by few. Rarely available in Hermès boutiques and only to the most elite customer, the best option for securing one is through a reseller or auction.
Rather, the bag’s ‘colorful’ history (and lack of authentication) no doubt factored in on pricing.For those curious, the Chinese site includes a luxury section that sells more than just Hermès handbags. You’ll find jewelry, watches, and more.
Auctions for criminal confiscated goods are not new. Cars – whether abandoned or taken – have long been auctioned for the proceeds. We’ve written about a Dutch court auctioning high end luxury items like Chanel and Hermès for the proceeds.
So, what do you think? Are you comfortable with your next luxury bag’s criminal roots? Worried it might not be authentic? Or is a deal a deal?