In recent years, auction houses have experienced an expansive paradigm shift in the sale of luxury goods, despite increasing competition from online resale platforms. But why are they booming?
Christie’s, the house of Kering founder François Pinault, said its luxury sales doubled last year with a 153% increase. A sum of $736 million came from auctions, both online and physical, while $240 million came from its private sales business or its direct connection of sellers with the wealthy buyers on its list.
From this neo-capitalist context at its best, there were record-breaking handbags such as the Hermès Himalaya Diamond Kelly for $515,000. Rare watches such as the Patek Philippe table-top watch for $10.4 million were also going for gold.
AN EVER-EXPANDING UNIVERSE
Houses such as Artcurial or Sotheby’s were also in sync with the success induced by luxury goods and the contemporary obsession with owning rare products. Now, in their spaces and showcases, Mark Rothko paintings coexist with special edition LV x Yayoi Kusama Keepall bags.
Parallel to this rise of the auction houses, luxury resale platforms such as Vestiaire Collective were valued at 1.7 billion dollars. Thanks to whom? Above all, to the new generations.
LUXURY INTERPRETED BY YOUTH
The new generations’ and/or digital natives’ obsession with luxury auctions allows them to balance instant gratification with maintaining their sustainable values. Beyond the fact of obtaining these highly rare objects, they are also directly influenced by the ease of shipping and the collector factor.
In this regard, millennials accounted for 29% of luxury sales at Christie’s, and up to 43% in the case of luxury handbags and accessories. Acquiring all these products from home has never been easier, and even more so when auction houses impeccably highlight the selection and its intrinsic rarities.
HERMÈS AND BIRKIN-MANIA
Hermès bags are projected as the great objects of desire (and speculation), among “Birkins” and “Kellys” whose demand outstripped supply long ago. Now, buyers of these iconic items pay exorbitant sums of money to own them, knowing their great resale potential and intergenerational appeal.
As of today, we know that Hermès bags have fetched as much as 35,000 euros in resale spaces; what remains to be seen is whether or not this great speculative bubble will ever burst.
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