Some people would kill for a Birkin bag. The ultra-luxury handbag by Hermès is one of the most exclusive fashion accessories in the world, with a lengthy waiting list of well-heeled individuals willing to pay $100,000 or more for one.
So it’s no wonder that many are recoiling in horror after Clint Eastwood’s 18-year-old daughter Francesca and her artist boyfriend Tyler Shields set fire to a crocodile Birkin bag for the sake of art, the Telegraph reports.
The art project, captured in a series of photographs, can be seen on Mr. Shields’s website, tylershields.com. It shows the bag being set alight using $4 worth of gasoline and shredded with a $200 chainsaw. (Mr. Shields suggests online that the bag is genuine Hermès, but that has not been verified.)
“Destruction is a beautiful version of freedom … Would you want this bag? Are you sad to see me destroy it?” Mr. Shields asks on his site.
It appears “sad” is not the word. Many reactions are that of anger and disgust, particularly among those who feel it’s a slap in the face to those less privileged.
“Do you realize how many animals you could have saved in a shelter for what you did? How many families could be fed? This isn’t art, this is a [narcissistic]show of your own excesses,” one commenter wrote.
“What point is Ms. Eastwood and her boyfriend trying to make?” another adds. “They’re just spoiled rich brats who have the luxury of throwing away this sort of dough in an instant.”
According to TMZ, Ms. Eastwood has even received death threats online (or at least, if not exactly death threats, then spirited insults, such as “You should kill urself”).
But others say they’re more baffled at the value of the handbag itself.
“I’m actually more shocked that grown-ups believe a purse was worth $100,000,” one individual wrote on Twitter. “Did it have $99,950 in it?”
“Better question is ‘why does a handbag like this even exist?’ NOT ‘why is she destroying it?’ ” wrote another.
However the project has gone over, Mr. Shields and Ms. Eastwood have succeeded in provoking questions about excess. In a previous art project, Mr. Shields destroyed a pair of Christian Louboutin heels and set it on fire, remarking: “Never let an object own you.”
The duo are certainly not the first to cause an uproar by setting fire to valued belongings.
In 1994, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, the duo behind the pop group the KLF, burned £1-million (about $2-million at that time) of their own money. As Mr. Drummond explained: “We could have done with the money. We wanted the money, but we wanted to burn it more.”
In 2010, Sweden’s Feminist Initiative burned 100,000 kronor (roughly $14,200) in a protest against a gender gap in wages.
If it’s your own money at stake, is it wrong to destroy it?