If you think that a Louis Vuitton handbag is a luxury item, wait until you hear the microscopic handbag that sold for over $63,000 at an online auction. The tiny tote, created by a New York art collective, is smaller than a grain of salt and requires a microscope to be seen.
A Knockoff of a Knockoff
The handbag is the work of MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based group known for its irreverent and provocative art projects. The collective has previously made headlines for its "Satan Shoes", a series of modified Nike sneakers featuring satanic symbols and drops of real human blood, and its "Birkinstocks", sandals made from ripped-up Birkin handbags.
The microscopic handbag is based on a popular Louis Vuitton design, the OnTheGo tote, which retails for between $3,100 and $4,300. However, MSCHF did not seek permission from the French label to use its logo or design, according to its chief creative officer Kevin Wiesner. The bag features the signature "LV" monogram in fluorescent yellowish-green color.
A Technological Feat
The handbag was made using two-photo polymerization, a manufacturing technology used to 3D-print micro-scale plastic parts. The process involves using a laser to solidify liquid resin into complex shapes. the bag measures just 657 by 222 by 700 microns, or less than 0.02 inches wide. It is narrow enough to pass through the eye of a needle and smaller than a grain of sea salt.
The bag was sold alongside a microscope equipped with a digital display through which the bag can be viewed. The auction was hosted by Joopiter, an online auction house founded by American musician Pharrell Williams, who also happens to be Louis Vuitton's creative director of menswear.
A Statement On Luxury
MSCHF said that the handbag was meant to challenge the notion of luxury and functionality. In its auction listing, the collective said:
"As a once-functional object like a handbag becomes smaller and smaller its object status becomes steadily more abstract until it is purely a brand signifier...A practical object is boiled down into jewelry, all of its putative function evaporated; for luxury objects, useability is the angles' share."
The handbag attracted 14 bids, starting from $15,000 and ending at $63,750. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed. MSCHF said that it will donate 10% of the proceeds to charity.