The success of the online-only sales gave the company confidence to grow the category and prepare for its first live auction. "And when we look at the luxury market, some of the biggest buyers of luxury of the last 20 years are here. Many of the biggest brands in the world are investing here, so it just makes sense for us to follow suit with the luxury brands, with the other complementary categories at Christie's, fine jewellery, fine timepieces, wine, to follow suit and do our first inaugural sale here in Hong Kong," Rubinger said.
The inaugural auction will be mostly bidding off rare Hermes handbags, with the most expensive being a dark brown crocodile Hermes Birkin that is expected to fetch US$33,000-$45,000. Rubinger highlighted a smaller Hermes bag, of a blue sapphire color that has been retired since the early 1990s, and explained what good quality skin meant on a crocodile handbag. "And what you look for when you're looking at skin, is you want small scales and you want for them to be symmetrical. So what you see on a bag like this, it's almost perfectly symmetrical back and forth, and the scales are very small. Because of that, that shows that this particular skin is one of the finest skins you can possibly use," Rubinger said. He added he expects the auction market for handbag to expand rapidly in the near future. "And over the last few years, it has really been developing into a real market. I would say, as of right now, it is a real market. It's in its infancy, it is brand new, but it is sufficiently a real market. And we are going to see, over the next five years, over the next ten years, we are going to see exactly what time pieces are, 25 years ago," Rubinger said.
Christie's hired Rubinger and two other staff from Texas-based Heritage Auctioneers & Galleries earlier this year. This resulted in Heritage filing a lawsuit against the auction house giant in June, accusing Christie's of "acts of unfair competition and unethical business practices", and seeking at least US$40 million. Rubinger and Christie's refused to comment on the lawsuit. Apart from handbags, Christie's will also auction off 300 lots of jewellery pieces, with estimated combined value of US$80 million. In the end of November. The highlights included a vivid blue internally flawless diamond ring of 3.39 carats that is expecting to fetch US$4.5-$6.5 million.