A Chinese Billionaire Just Made Millions by Auctioning Some of His Hermès Birkin Bags
The auction, which sold 76 luxury handbags, was the largest ever held by a single owner on Asia's auction market.
BY Dana Givens  |  March 14, 2023
2 Minute Read


Billionaire Joseph Lau teamed up with Sotheby’s to sell his collection of premier handbags, including an assortment of rare Hermès Birkins.

The auction house’s recent online “Visionary Collection of Joseph Lau” auction netted over US$3 million (HK$23.55 million) with the sale of 76 luxury handbags, most of which were made by the French luxury label. It was the largest handbag sale hosted by a single owner on the Asian auction market. 

Some of the highlights of the sale include six diamond Birkins and a rare bronze metallic Kelly bag that sold for US$129,774 )HK$1.02 million). The most expensive lot of the sale was a 2006 Bleu Jean Shiny Porosus Crocodile Birkin 25 featuring 18-karat white gold and diamond hardware. It hammered down for US$193,626 (HK$1.5 million).

“This season, we were privileged to present a singular collection of handbags acquired by Joseph Lau across two decades, within it, telling the history of handbags and fashion itself. Asia has undoubtedly been a major driving force for the luxury market in recent times, with results for handbags, borne out by the strong prices for limited editions establishing multiple new records and benchmarks,” Morgane Halimi, Sotheby’s global head of handbags and accessories, said in a statement.

The sale was the largest ever held by a single owner on the Asian auction market.

Lau has been a long-time collector of the iconic handbags and reportedly still has over 1,000 in his collection. Indeed, the Hong Kong tycoon has been known to collect across a range of categories. In 2015, he broke a record when he bought a 12-karat blue diamond for US$52.9 million (HK$415.26 million). He also owns a fine art collection highlighted by Pop artists such as Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Lau has offloaded numerous items from his various collections since 2020, earning him a whopping US$177 million (HK1.4 billion) in revenue.

As for Hermès, it’s been a good week all around. Not only are its iconic bags proving their grail status in the auction market, yesterday the French label prevailed in its fight against an artist who was selling NFTs of the bags, which he dubbed “MetaBirkins.” A court ruled that the artist, Mason Rothschild, must now pay the brand US$133,000 (HK$1.04 million) for the violation and cease production of the NFTs.