A $52,500 handbag?

You want to know about the rich/poor divide? Or perhaps just the rich/not-so-poor-but-not-so-well-off-either divide? OK, new Census figures we recently reported show that median household income in L.A. County last year was $51,315, which is up 6.3 percent from 2005. Not bad, right? So if that median household took all that money - every single cent it made in an entire year - it still wouldn't be quite enough to pay for the Tribute Patchwork handbag from Louis Vuitton, priced at $52,500. The Wealth Report's Robert Frank, who came across this most flagrant example of conspicuous consumption, asks the unanswerable question: What makes it worth $52,500? A Vuitton spokeswoman says that the company just made 24 of the bags and allocated only four for the U.S. (all of which had buyers). The bag is made from 15 previously issued Louis Vuitton bags and is stitched together "by hand."

“Some were from our archives,” she said. “Some were from prior collections. And some were from collections that were never commercialized (meaning they only appeared on a runway show).” What’s more, she said, the bag “has a lot of exotics,” which means bits of alligator skin.

She calls the bag "a piece of art," which has become an all-purpose justification for paying obscene amounts of money for little or no reason - other than you have lots and lots of money and don't really know what to do with it. "The people who are buying this bag might be big collectors of Louis Vuitton. And they see fashion as art," she tells Frank.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing
Previous story: Murdoch's pay

Next story: Clayton leaving Times

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook