An auction of rare Gucci handbags disappointed at Christie’s, a sign that robust demand for high-end purses is softening.
Two Gucci Bamboo bags failed to meet the low pre-sale estimate at an online auction held by Christie’s that ended Tuesday, while a third just reached the low estimate, according to preliminary results.
The costliest purse at the sale, which also included Hermes bags, was a black leather Bamboo with a yellow gold handle and a diamond-encrusted closure. It was seen fetching between €150,000 and €200,000 prior to the auction, but sold for €138,600 ($150,423) including buyer’s fees.
Gucci partnered with Christie’s to sell the three bags, with the proceeds to go to Save Venice, a charity which seeks “to preserve the artistic heritage” of the Italian city. Christie’s is owned by the billionaire Pinault family’s investment company, Artemis, which in turn holds a controlling stake in Gucci parent Kering SA.
Three lower-priced Gucci bags at the auction whose proceeds weren’t going to charity did better, surpassing estimates.
Some well-heeled consumers are reining in luxury purchases after a period of feverish demand during and coming out of the pandemic. A record price for a handbag at auction was reached two years ago at Christie’s for a rare Himalaya Kelly, which sold for HK$4 million ($512,000).
More broadly, Gucci sales have lagged behind its main luxury peers for the past few years, prompting Kering executives to begin a reset at the group’s biggest label. Gucci named a new designer, Sabato de Sarno, who unveiled his first collection in September in Milan.
The Gucci auction at Christie’s was an attempt to “convince consumers Gucci’s value endures and is not transient and dependent on today’s fashion,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca told Bloomberg. “Auctions have become a tried and tested tool to enhance brand image.”
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