Fans of the iconic Hermès Birkin bags are beating the long waiting list by scoring the bags at auctions. The much sought-after Birkins have been continuously breaking auction records.

Earlier today, a matte white Niloticus Crocodile Himalaya Birkin 30 with a diamond-encrusted white-gold buckle and hardware was auctioned for HK$2.98 million at Christie’s, making it the most expensive handbag ever sold at auctions. The collector, who won the bid by phone, is not from Asia.

“The overall market for top [handbag] collectors has really matured,” says Matthew Rubinger, international head of handbags & accessories at Christie’s.

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Among all the Birkin bags, the Niloticus Crocodile Himalaya is one of the most coveted. A similar style was auctioned for HK$2.94 million at Christie’s last year. It’s dubbed the Holy Grail for bag lovers.

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The aptly named “Himalaya” Birkin reflects the bag’s delicate gradation of colour from smoky grey to pearly white – resembling the snow-capped Himalayas. Diamond Himalayas are also scarce – reportedly only one or two are made each year. Apart from the Birkins, Hermès also crafts a few Himalaya Kelly bags for top clients.

When asked why Himalaya Birkins continue to fetch record-breaking prices at auctions, Rubinger says that their “extreme rarity, iconic status and craftsmanship” are what drives prices up.