A collection of “rare and exceptional” handbags—from the likes of Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton—is on offer from Christie’s, in an auction ending Dec. 12.
The sale also “includes a selection of costume jewellery from Chanel—the collection spans a range of generations with lots coming from the modern era of Karl Lagerfeld, dating back to iconic original designs created by Coco Chanel herself,” Christie’s said in a statement. “This fantastic section is being sold without reserve.”
The star of the show is a mini Hermès Kelly bag made from sterling silver and dating to the 1990s, according to the auction house. The bag features “a charming miniature version of the signature Cadena lock,” in addition to its “iconic silhouette,” the catalog said. Available at auction for the first time in seven years, the bag is estimated to fetch between US$100,000-US$200,000.
The “sterling silver Kelly [is] one of the rarest pieces ever created by Hermès and now available at auction for the first time in seven years,” according to a statement from Christie’s.
Two limited-edition Bolide bags, also from Hermès, are part of the sale. Inspired by automobile travel, these bags—created 100 years after the original—feature tiny wheels for a touch of whimsy, plus hardware made from Palladium. One example is bleu saphir epsom leather with orange wheels, while the other is gold with yellow wheels.
The classic handbag represents “the imagination and innovation that Hermès is known for,” the catalog said. “Its silhouette was made to seamlessly fit inside the trunk of a car and its zipper, the first to ever be featured on a handbag, allowed for elegant ease of access while traveling.”
“There are also several men’s handbags included in the sale, such as “The Rock” HAC Birkin by Hermès, which has an estimate of US$40,000 to US$50,000 and is on offer for the first time from Christie’s. “This is the first Birkin bag specifically crafted for men and inspired by the supple appeal of leather jackets,” according to the auction house.
The sale also an acrylic and crystal ice-cube clutch with silver hardware that was part of a fall 2010 Chanel runway show with an estimate of US$6,000 to US$8,000; a limited-edition yellow and black monogram leather pumpkin bag by Louis Vuitton with Yayoi Kusama that could fetch up to US$15,000; and a Louis Vuitton trunk, circa 1890, that is estimated to sell for between US$10,000 to US$15,000.
Handbags have had a banner year, with 2023 sales reaching a total of HK$154 million (US$20 million) in sales so far this year—a record in the handbags and accessories category, according to Christie’s. The record was broken at a November auction in Hong Kong, where the company sold nearly HK$55 million (US$7 million) in rare and designer handbags.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.
Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.
The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.
“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.
The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.
“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”
Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.
The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.
Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.
“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”
The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.
Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.
One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.
The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.
It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.
“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”
The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.
“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.
As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.
Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.
“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.
Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.
Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.
“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’