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29th Jun 2023

Handbag ‘smaller than a grain a salt’ sells for $63k

Steve Hopkins

The bag is based on a Louis Vuitton tote which retails at full size for between $3,100 and $4,300

A tiny handbag “narrow enough to pass through the eye of a needle” has sold for over $63,000 (just under £50k).

The accessory, barely visible to the human eye despite being fluorescent yellowish-green, sold during an online auction on Wednesday.

The bag is based on a popular Louis Vuitton design and features its iconic monogram, though it was not made by Louis Vuitton.

It is the work of a New York art collective.

Dubbing its diminutive creation “Microscopic Handbag,” the Brooklyn-based group MSCHF claims the bag is “smaller than a grain of salt”.

CNN reports that the bag measures just 657 by 222 by 700 microns (or less than 0.03 inches wide)

In an Instagram post, MSCHF writes: “Smaller than a grain of sea salt and narrow enough to pass through the eye of a needle, this is a purse so small you’ll need a microscope to see it.

“There are big handbags, normal handbags, and small handbags, but this is the final word in bag miniaturisation. As a once-functional object like a handbag becomes smaller and smaller its object status becomes steadily more abstracted until it is purely a brand signifier.”

CNN reports that the bag was made using two-photon polymerisation, a manufacturing technology used to 3D-print micro-scale plastic parts.

The bag was sold alongside a microscope so the owner can see it.

CNN noted the miniature bag appears to be based on the French label’s OnTheGo tote, which retails at full size for between $3,100 and $4,300.

A statement published alongside the handbag auction listing posited that the fashion industry’s love of small bags had seen them “steadily more abstracted” to the point that the accessory is “purely a brand signifier.”

“Previous small leather handbags have still required a hand to carry them — they become dysfunctional, inconveniences to their ‘wearer,’” the statement added.

“‘Microscopic Handbag’ takes this to its full logical conclusion. A practical object is boiled down into jewellery, all of its putative function evaporated; for luxury objects, usability is the angels’ share.”

The sale was hosted by Joopiter, an online auction house founded by rapper, producer, clothing mogul, and recently appointed LV men’s creative director, Pharrell Williams.

MSCHF’s chief creative officer Kevin Wiesner previously told the New York Times that the collective had not sought his or the French label’s permission to use its logo or design.

“Pharrell loves big hats, so we made him an incredibly small bag,” he told the publication.

Founded in 2016, MSCHF has made headlines with its so-called “drops,” irreverent art projects that often poke fun at — while profiting from — consumer capitalism. The group was infamously sued by Nike over its “Satan Shoes,” a series of 666 pairs of modified Nike sneakers featuring satanic symbols and drops of real human blood. The dispute was eventually settled out of court.

In 2021, the group ripped up four Birkin handbags to create sandals (dubbed “Birkinstocks”) that it offered for up to $76,000 a pair.

More recently, its cartoonish rubber boots, known as “Big Red Boots,” became a viral sensation.

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