Handbags and Accessories

Complete Guide to Buying and Selling a Birkin

By Max Brownawell
Shop Birkin Bags , Available for Immediate Shipping
Birkin

History of the Birkin

The Birkin is an icon in the fashion world, highly sought-after by celebrities and the handbag-obsessed. The Birkin’s design is a collaboration between Jane Birkin and Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas. The two met on a flight from Paris to London in 1984. Birkin confided in Dumas that she lacked a purse with appropriate functionality for her fast-paced lifestyle. Out of this conversation, the Birkin 40 in chic calfbox leather was born. The Birkin’s practical design featuring two rolled handles, a flap top, clou “feet,” and a lock closure continues to resonate today. The very first Birkin was the only bag to have ashoulder strap.

The Birkin remains the most coveted Hermès bag thanks to its signature Hermès craftsmanship and exclusivity. A Birkin takes an expert artisan a minimum of 18 hours to complete. Each Birkin is marked with a code that identifies the year, the workshop, and artisan. Customers must have a purchase history with Hermès to purchase a bag directly from the boutique. Hermès only allows boutiques to purchase a select number of Birkins on a bi-annual basis and the style of Birkin bag delivered to boutiques is rarely known ahead of time. As a result, customers must either make do with the available Birkin offered by the sales associate or patiently wait for the style they want to become available. The Birkin is the most searched for Hermès bag with nearly a million monthly searches related to the Birkin.

As a trusted secondary market since in 1744, Sotheby's Specialists are available to answer any questions about buying or selling a Birkin.

Sotheby's Birkin Buying Guide

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How to Buy a Birkin

If you don't have a deep long standing relationship with an Hermès sales associate or you have already reached our annual quota, Sotheby's offers several ways you can purchase a Birkin. Whether you are buying your first Birkin or adding to your Birkin collection, a Sotheby's Handbag Specialist is happy to assist with your purchase. We can advise on the materials and size that best suites your lifestyle and availability in each channel.

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Birkin Bag Cost

How much is a Birkin depends on many things including material, size, age and condition. While the Birkin comes in different hardware options, it is more of a personal preference and has less impact on the price of a Birkin. The Birkin comes in several standard sizes, Birkin 25, Birkin 30, Birkin 35 and Birkin 40. The smaller Birkins are limited editions including the Faubourg Birkin 20 and micro Birkin 15 or Baby Birkin. The most popular Birkin sizes are Birkin 25 and Birkin 30. A Birkin directly from Hermès ranges in price from about $10,000 for a leather bag to over $200,000 for a crocodile and diamond Birkin. A Birkin at Sotheby's generally ranges from $15,000 for an older leather Birkin 35 to over $400,000 for a store fresh diamond Himalayan Birkin. Most Birkins sold at Sotheby's are leather and sell for between $20,000 to $30,000. The most expensive leather Birkins are store fresh with plastic on the hardware in Birkin 25 or Birkin 30 sizes. An exotic Birkin is generally around $25,000-$35,000 for ostrich and generally over $40,000 for a crocodile or alligator Birkin. A Himalaya Birkin 25 or Birkin 30 is priced around $200,000 for a pristine condition bag.

Buy A Birkin Now on Marketplace

Sotheby's has a curated selection of Birkins available for immediate purchase. The available Birkins changes weekly since bags sell quickly. Black and other neutral colored Togo leather Birkin 25 and Birkin 30 are the most popular. Store fresh or bags in pristine condition with plastic protecting the hardware generally sell the fastest. Older bags with some minor marks and exotic bags often take longer to sell. Birkins in general are the most popular Hermès bag sold by Sotheby's. The selection can change very quickly so if you see your preferred bag, don't expect it to be available for long. Birkins available on Sotheby's Marketplace are fixed price. Price ranges for a leather birkin generally ranges from $15,000 to $30,000 and exotic material bags are generally more expensive depending the material, color and condition.

Hermès Birkin Bags Available For Purchase

Buy a Birkin in the Next Auction

Sotheby's also sells Birkins at Auction in New York, Hong Kong, Geneva and Paris. The available bags vary in each sale but auctions always have a mix of super rare Limited Edition Birkins like a Birkin Himalaya or Birkin Faubourg and more standard leather bags in neutral colors. The Hong Kong and New York sales generally have more bags since these are larger markets for Sotheby's but expect to see a curated assortment in every sale. Reserve prices are lower than marketplace fixed prices since the Buyer's Premium is added to the hammer price. The final price for a Birkin can vary more at auction than Marketplace due to Auction bidding dynamics. A super rare Birkin can sell for a much higher price than the high estimate depending on demand. A metalic silver with bronze Birkin 25 sold for over $139,000 in 2022 Hong Kong Auction, significantly above the $98,000 high estimate.

Buy a Birkin via Sotheby's Concierge Service

If you are looking for a very specific Birkin that is not available on Sotheby's Marketplace and the next auction is a few months in the future, Sotheby's Concierge Service is another buying alternative. Sotheby's Specialists are able to source a prisitne Birkin in many colors, sizes and materials within a few weeks in most cases. We can advise if your budget is inline with current market prices since pricing for bags is dynamic. Generally Sotheby's is able to source a bag within a few weeks if the budget is inline with market prices. Some rare limited edition or vintage bags can take longer to source but your specialist can advise on how long it will take to source a specific Birkin. Sotheby's has sourced a basic Black Birkin in Togo with Gold Hardware and a supar rare Diamond Birkin Himalaya.

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Sotheby's Birkin Selling Guide

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How to sell a Birkin

Sotheby's Specialist can also assist in selling your Birkin. The condition of the Birkin is the most important factor in accepting your bag for any of Sotheby's selling options. If your Birkin is in excellent condition with very minor scratching on the hardware and very minor wear on the handle and exterior of the bag and clean interior, we can most likely accept the bag for consignment. Sending images of any marks or scratches to a specialist is very helpful with receiving an accurate price estimate. A Birkin that is store fresh (date stamp within the last 12-18 months) with the original plastic covering all hardware, all accessories and original box sells at the highest premium. Neutral leather Birkin 25 and Birkin 30 are the most desirable bags and often sell within a few weeks of being listed. An exotic Birkin in ostrich, lizard, alligator or crocodile generally takes longer than a leather Birkin since many buyers of these items are very particular about the size, hardware and color. There are more buyers looking for a dark neutral exotic Birkin than a bright colored bag, so this also impacts the time to sell a bag.

Sell A Birkin Now on Marketplace

Birkins sold on Sotheby's Marketplace are sold for a fixed price and sellers receive 80% of the selling price. Birkin pricing is based on condition, color, material and size. The market demand for specific Limited Edition Birkins can vary since the Birkin market is pretty dynamic. Birkins are the most popular Hermès bag sold on Sotheby's marketplace and generally sell within 30-45 days for a pristine store fresh bag in leather.

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Sell a Birkin in the Next Auction

Sotheby's sells Birkins at auction in New York, Hong Kong, Geneva and Paris a few times a year. A Specialist can assist you with the global auction calendar and the best location to sell your Birkin at Auction. The benefit of selling at Auction is your bag is very likely to sell during the auction, while bags listed on Sotheby's marketplace can take longer to sell. Some bags are also better suited for auction based on desirability and opportunity for a higher price. Competitive bidding often results in prices that are a premium to the market value. Leather and rare limited edition Birkins have sold for prices significantly above market but auction results can be hard to predict. More price variability isn't rgiht for all sellers and there are advantages to selling for a fixed price. A Sotheby's Specialist is happy to provide insight on auction versus marketplace to let you make an informed decision.

Sell a Birkin via Private Sale

Sotheby's sells select Birkins via private sale in markets like Dubai and France due to limitations of marketplace. Most private sale Birkins are exotic or rare limited edition bags. Sotheby's generally doesn't sell leather Birkins via private sale.

Contact handbagspecialists@sothebys.com if you have questions about buying or selling a Birkin.

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