Christie’s Turns Spotlight to Jewelry and Handbags

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ALL THAT GLITTERS: Like its rival Sotheby’s, Christie’s is still riding high after recent record breaking art sales. Hoping to keep that high rolling momentum going, Christie’s is counting on some high-ticketed accessories and jewelry to rev up more sales.

Wednesday’s “Magnificent Jewels” sale will include “The Light of Africa Diamond,” an emerald-cut diamond that weighs in at 103.49 carats. That piece has an estimate ranging from $11 million to $18 million.

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The sale will also include notable jewels by JAR that are from the estate philanthropist, publisher and socialite Ann Getty, who died in 2020, including a multigem and diamond leaf brooch with a cushion-cut emerald of nearly 12 carats. The pre-sale estimate is between $500,000 and $700,000.

Another key offering in the “Magnificent Jewels” sale will be a set of Van Cleef & Arpels coral and gold jewelry that was previously owned by the late New York City grand dame Brooke Astor. The VCA NY-signed necklace and VCA-signed earrings are expected to fetch between $30,000 and $50,000.

Wednesday will also mark the start of Christie’s two-night “Watches Evening Sales.” A Patek Philippe 18-karat rose gold wristwatch with a cloisonné enamel dial depicting Lake Geneva’s shores and the Lavaux Vineyards is expected to hail between $1 million and $2 million.

There is also an ongoing online sale for designer handbags that wraps up Thursday. Called “The New York Edit,” the 194 pre-owned styles include dozens from Hermès, as well as options from Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. As of Monday, an Hermès 2016 shiny Gris Tourtrelle Porosus Crocodile Kelly bag had a bid of $14,000. There are also a few sundries such as Hermès 2021 Savannah bag charm that as of Monday afternoon had a current bid of $300 — $100 below the opening estimated price.

Having returned to New York last fall after working in Christie’s London office for a few years, Rachel Koffsky was named senior vice president of international handbags on June 1. Koffsky, who has taken on a position that had been vacant for a few years, will also continue to work as an auctioneer.

One handbag that is getting a lot of attention online is an Hermès 2021 custom matte pink alligator Birkin 25 handbag that had a bid of $120,000 as of Monday afternoon — double the high-end of its estimate.

Another current standout is a matte white Himalaya crocodile retourné Kelly 25 with palladium hardware that had a bid of $120,000, as of Monday afternoon. That was nearing the estimated opening price of $150,000. “A very similar piece sold recently in Hong Kong for $450,000,” Koffsky said.

In her former role as international senior specialist, she has traveled to many different countries to help handbag collectors look after their collections, to curate collections and to put together auctions. She also worked as an auctioneer for the company’s handbag auctions in London. Christie’s has also reintroduced handbag sales in Paris and Milan. The April sale in Paris for the most collectible bags resulted in 100 percent of the 70 styles being sold, thanks to international participation. Citing a recent “phenomenal” sale in Hong Kong, Koffsky said expectations for New York are high as well.

”The market is very strong for handbags. We see really strong demand. The pandemic has changed the way that many people have approached shopping and collecting. It’s really reduced many barriers to entry, in terms of people feeling comfortable participating online and with the secondary market,” she said.

In addition, supply chain issues and the closure of some factories have made some clients look to the secondary market for options. Many are doing so for the first time in their lives. Interest in resale is being led by Gen Z, whose members are “very comfortable buying and selling on the secondary market,” Koffsky said. “That’s a sentiment that’s [increasingly] shared by all generations.”

Handbags are part of the luxury cluster at Christie’s, which also includes watches, wine and jewelry. Although the jewelry department is a separate one, the handbags team works closely with its staffers and there is a good deal of crossover with shoppers. “Often clients will come in looking at a diamond. And walking through the galleries, they will be taken by a Birkin or vice versa,” Koffsky said.

Christie’s has high expectations for its online handbag sale. - Credit: Photo Courtesy Christie’s
Christie’s has high expectations for its online handbag sale. - Credit: Photo Courtesy Christie’s

Photo Courtesy Christie’s

Christie’s New York has more in store planned for this fall from the Ann & Gordon Getty Collection. Through a series of auctions in October, nearly 1,500 decorative and fine arts from the couple’s San Francisco apartment will be will be offered. Il Canaletto’s “Entrance to the Grand Canal Looking East” and Henri Matisse’s “Chrysanthemes dans un vase de Chine (1902)” are expected to fetch approximately $6 million and $4 million, respectively. Proceeds from the sale, which will benefit the the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, are estimated to reach as much as $180 million, according to the auction house.


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