Melania Trump's Birkin Bag Collection Is Worth At Least $114k, According to Specialists

Melania Trump Birkin Bag
Photo: Photo Illustration. Photo: Getty Images, Shutterstock

You knew this already, but we'll reiterate for the sake of this article: First Lady Melania Trump has a soft spot for the finer things in life. Whereas first ladies before her may have chosen to mix high and low brands while in office (Michelle Obama was celebrated for repping relatable brands like J.Crew, though she knew how to rock Versace, too), Melania has decidedly forgone that route—save for that $39 Zara jacket with a message.

During Donald's first European trip in May 2017, she turned to Dolce & Gabbana for a $51,500 floral coat, and she's continued sending a "more is more" message since, sporting flashy, $795 Christian Louboutin heels, $4,000 Delpozo coats, and enormous, custom-made white hats designed by her personal stylist (what a luxury!), Hervé Pierre. She's the First Lady, yes, but she's still a Trump.

That said, there's no greater marker of opulent and lavish taste than the Hermès Birkin, the handbag that Trump has proudly wielded since Donald took office. First released in 1984, the bag was developed following a chance encounter on an airplane between then-Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas and actress and style icon Jane Birkin, who bemoaned the lack of a practical, yet still bohemian bag. Thus, the Birkin was born.

Since its release, the bag has been in high demand, but the French fashion house doesn't share how many Birkin bags it produces each year, and trying to nail down exactly how much any one can cost is complicated. One cannot simply walk into an Hermès boutique and ask to buy a Birkin.

Melania, however, has managed to amass quite the collection.

She first made headlines for choosing to carry what looks like a camel-colored Clemence Birkin in gold for her official move into the White House in June 2017 (she didn't immediately move to D.C. after the inauguration, choosing to stay in NYC while Barron finished out the school year), and since, she's decided to wear that prized possession selectively. Here's the thing: It's hard to confirm how many Birkin bags Melania owns, but following that appearance, we've spotted the First Lady toting six distinct versions—all of which come with a hefty price tag.

VIDEO: A Theory About Melania Trump's Giant Hat

In order to wrap our heads around the sum of all her bags, we turned to the experts for a second opinion. In doing so, we learned that it's important to understand the many ways in which you can go about getting a Birkin. Customers can choose to either a) work closely with Hermès or b) find one on the resale market (that includes auctions), which will prove more expensive, but ultimately easier than working with the highly selective brand.

According to a buyer from What Goes Around Comes Around, a luxury vintage retailer that specializes in archival fashion (WGACA is a go-to for Hollywood stylists in search of designer vintage), who preferred not to be named, it's exclusivity that helps keep these bags so expensive. And to keep them exclusive, there's a vetting process. "You have to have a sales record with [Hermès] and have purchased many other things in the past," the buyer told InStyle in reference to the hush-hush nature of getting one from the brand itself.

Aside from regularly shopping at the store, you can also receive preferential treatment by simply being a VIP. People of extreme wealth, status, or celebrity can often be deemed worthy of shopping for one, though that's entirely up to Hermès, who will also determine what skin, color, and hardware they're willing to sell to you—not the other way around. The lack of control is why some customers prefer to head directly to the resale market, where, if price is no object, the sky's the limit.

Interestingly enough, even A-list celebrities can get cut off from buying directly from the store if they've purchased too many bags, which happens. "Every client is given a certain amount that they're able to purchase in a year," says Caitlin Donovan, Vice President, Head of Sale, Handbag and Accessories at Christie's auction house, which has specialists dedicated to handbag authentication. So many rules! "Even top Hermès clients often will supplement their collections by shopping secondary," she tells InStyle, meaning if local customers simply have to have another Birkin, shopping outside of the main store—though often significantly more expensive—is a common option.

Trump's bags reflect the fact that she is indeed a collector. The bags she's racked up (there's a maroon, black, navy, and lighter tan style in the mix) are what Donovan describes as "must-haves" for a Birkin collector. Her black crocodile Birkin? "If you walked into Hermès today and were able to purchase it, the price tag with tax would be close to $75,000," Donovan adds. (The WGACA buyer notes a crocodile Birkin can start at $45,000 at the Hermès store.)

And what about the price of an average bag? The most expensive Birkin ever sold—also the world's most expensive handbag—went at auction for $379,261 in 2017, but that's a rarity. According to WGACA, Birkins can be priced as low as $4,000 for an extremely used, tattered up style (some customers prefer this), while prices soar dramatically once you introduce finer materials like ostrich leather and crocodile. Those bags can begin at about $20,000 and fly into the hundreds of thousands.

For a brand-new bag straight from the Hermès store, you'll likely pay around $9,000, with the ballpark average being $12,000. Prices vary depending on the country it's sold in, as well as the medium (what it's made of), the style, and the condition. Donovan estimates that for a 35 cm (the larger style you're most accustomed to seeing, compared to a 30 cm) Birkin from the store, you'd better be prepared to hand over around $13,000.

So what does this mean for Melania? We estimated the total amount of money she's spent on the six handbags below, which only include the Birkins we've seen her carry since moving into the White House in 2017. For consistency, we added up the estimates based on in-store, rather than resale prices. As Donovan notes, there's no clear way of knowing whether they were purchased in-store or via resale. ("Fifty percent of the bags in an auction are brand new, never used. There'd be no way to tell by looking at the bag where she purchased them from," she says.) So, ready for the conservative estimated total, assuming Melania bought the bags in an Hermès store? $114,000.

And while yes, spending that much money might seem ridiculous, it's apparently normal for Hermès collectors to pick up Birkins like candy. "It's not uncommon for a woman who collects to have multiples in different sizes and colors," the WGACA representative adds.

In fact, there's one sign that points at Melania's outrageous wealth, and it's the way in which she carries her bag. As pointed out by the WGACA buyer, the Birkin is known for having a complex flap system that's held together with a lock, meaning opening and closing it can be kind of complicated. Melania, however, always carries her Birkins with the flap completely open. Casual.

At the end of the day, the Birkin is the ultimate symbol of status, a suggestion of power, and something that reminds Americans and the foreign diplomats she's visiting that yes, she defines l-u-x-u-r-y.

Sigh.

Below, all six of Trump's Birkins, including their estimated cost based on the WGACA buyer's examination of the images.

01 of 09

July 16, 2018

July 16, 2018
Pool/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $12,000 (new); $15,000 (resale)

Size: 35 cm

Home sweet home? Following a seven-day trip to England, Scotland, and Helsinki, the Trumps arrived at the White House and this time, Melania carried a navy Birkin, dressing it down with a white shirt, jeans, and black flats.

02 of 09

July 15, 2018

July 15, 2018
HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $11,000 (new); $16,000 (resale)

Size: 30 cm

Type of Leather: Clemence

Hermès Color: Gold

Fact: While the 35 cm Birkin is the most common, some customers prefer the smaller 30 cm version. The smaller the bag, the more expensive it becomes due to popularity and demand.

Before President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a historic and controversial news conference, and before Trump famously threw a soccer ball into Melania's lap, she arrived in their host city, Helsinki, Finland, deplaning Air Force One with her camel-colored Birkin and matching leather pants. To suit up, she wore a white button-down shirt with a gray coat and flats.

03 of 09

July 13, 2018

July 13, 2018
Andrew Milligan - PA Images/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $11,000 (new); $16,000 (resale)

Size: 30 cm

Type of Leather: Clemence

Hermès Color: Gold

For months, Trump chose not to carry any handbag in public. That is, until she arrived in Scotland for a quick stay in between her and POTUS's meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in London and their encounter with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. To travel, she carried her Birkin bag with khaki pants, pointed-toe pumps, and an olive jacket that wasn't quite as polarizing as this one.

She previously carried this bag on July 15.

04 of 09

January 1, 2018

January 1, 2018
Pool/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $12,000 (new); $15,000 (resale)

Size: 35 cm

Hermès Color: Rouge

After the holidays, the First Lady returned to the White House once more with a Birkin, this one a maroon version that she matched with Helmut Lang leather pants, a similar turtleneck, heels, and a Bottega Veneta coat.

05 of 09

September 14, 2017

September 14, 2017
AP/REX/Shutterstock

Estimated Cost: at least $12,000 (new); $15,000 (resale)

Size: 35 cm

For her trip to Florida to visit victims of Hurricane Irma, Trump departed the White House in a structured black jacket with khaki pants, oversize sunglasses, Chanel flats, and her black Birkin in tow. Several weeks before, she faced backlash after leaving D.C. to visit victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston dressed in another expensive accessory, Jimmy Choo heels.

06 of 09

September 10, 2017

September 10, 2017
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: $10,000 to $15,000 (new); $20,000 (resale)

Size: 35 cm

Type of Leather: Togo

Hermès Color: Trench

Fact: Customers tend to gravitate toward this combination of the light tan "Trench" color with gold hardware, which makes it more expensive.

After a trip to Camp David, Trump returned to the White House in a Calvin Klein 205W39 red shirt with J. Brand jeans, Christian Louboutin flats, and a light tan Birkin.

07 of 09

July 8, 2017

July 8, 2017
Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $45,000 (new); $75,000 (resale)

Size: 30 cm

Type of Skin: Crocodile

Trump returned to the U.S. from the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany deplaning Air Force One with her Hermès crocodile Birkin paired with a black top and white Dolce & Gabbana skirt.

08 of 09

July 5, 2017

July 5, 2017
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $45,000 (new); $75,000 (resale)

Size: 30 cm

Type of Skin: Crocodile

Fact: Crocodile skins are about three times more expensive than leather bags.

Ahead of an official state visit to Germany and Poland, Trump carried her black crocodile Birkin—likely the most expensive of the batch—and styled it with a black sweater, Valentino plaid pants, oversize sunglasses, and Manolo Blahnik heels. For her Polish adventure, Trump didn't hold back, also wearing a decidedly bold $2,229 Delpozo dress.

She previously carried this bag on July 8, 2017.

09 of 09

June 11, 2017

June 11, 2017
Pool/Getty Images

Estimated Cost: at least $11,000 (new); $16,000 (resale)

Size: 30 cm

Type of Leather: Clemence

Hermès Color: Gold

After months of delaying her move, Trump finally moved into the White House in June 2017. For her arrival, she made one thing clear: she wasn't letting her pricey wardrobe stay back home in New York. Carrying her camel-colored Birkin, she toured her new digs in a Dolce & Gabbana with Bally pants and Manolo Blahnik heels.

She previously carried this bag on July 13 and 15 in 2018.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles