Bringing Home the Birkin

Bringing Home the Birkin

My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag

Book - 2008
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An insider's hilarious, whirlwind account of his years spent globe-trotting in search of the holy grail of handbags: the Birkin

For more than twenty years, the Herm#65533;s Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. Though the bag is often seen dangling from the arms of celebrities, there is a fabled waiting list of more than two years to buy one from Herm#65533;s, and the average fashionista has a better chance of climbing Mount Everest in Prada pumps than of possessing one of these coveted carryalls. Unless, of course, she happens to know Michael Tonello . . .

Michael's newfound career started with an impulsive move to Barcelona, a vanished job assignment, no work visa, and an Herm#65533;s scarf sold on eBay to generate some quick cash. But soon the resourceful Michael discovered the truth about the waiting list and figured out the secret to getting Herm#65533;s to part with one of these precious bags. Millions of dollars worth of Birkins later, Michael had become one of eBay's most successful entrepreneurs--and a Robin Hood to thousands of desperate rich women.

With down-to-earth wit, Michael chronicles the unusual ventures that took him to nearly every continent, from eBay to Paris auction house and into the lives of celebrities and poseurs. Flirting with danger, Michael recounts the heady rush of hand delivering his first big score to famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager in Paris; how he had to hire thugs to rescue a bag that one of his "shoppers" held for ransom; and the story of the Oscar-worthy performances that allowed him to snag "reserved" bags from other, less dogged Birkin seekers.

Whether he's relating his wining and dining, buying and selling, dodging and weaving, laughing and crying, or schmoozing and stammering, Michael is a master raconteur who weaves together tales of hunting Birkins in the world's most posh locales, memories of meals that would make any gastronome salivate, anecdotes of obsessed collectors with insatiable desires, and sweetly intimate stories about his family, friends, and finding true love. The result is a memoir that is distinctive, fun, page-turning, and as addictive as its namesake.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, [2008]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9780061473333
Branch Call Number: 381.177092 TONEL
Characteristics: x, 257 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


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FindingJane May 31, 2015

This is a book with truly humorous moments. Mr. Tonello strikes the reader as being witty, resourceful, generous, competent and above all a man not to let life’s little vicissitudes get him down. He learns to mingle with the wealthy with an ease that makes you think he was born to the purple. True, he does get caught up in the mad whirl of pursuing the Birkin (and even after all his details, it’s tough to see what’s so special about it—it’s only a bag, after all). However, as with any travel book, it’s the journey itself that is of real significance.

And what a journey it is! Mr. Tonello travels practically around the world and has something cogent and knowing to say about everywhere he goes—the vistas, the attitudes, the cuisine and the various foibles of the people he meets. For it is the people that are the most crucial aspect of any place and Mr. Tonello knows this very well. His book is filled with the tales of rich and shameless as well as helpful tips for anyone who actually does want to purchase this elusive accessory. The warmth with which he praises people he knows and even those he doesn’t shines through in every chapter.

The external journey becomes internal when tragedy enters the picture. But even that allows his inner cordiality and strength to come to the fore. Mr. Tonello is that ultimate tour guide—savvy, insightful, funny, utterly charming and winning.

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