Handbag fever has hit bizarre new heights in New Zealand with a raft of boutique industries springing up to cash in on the hype.
Following on the success of the NZ$22,000 (£7,800) sale of the fashion weapon used by rugby legend Tana Umaga to wallop some sense into Hurricanes team-mate Chris Masoe, auction site TradeMe has been swamped with imitation handbags, decal stickers, and other questionable collectables, including a bike that "could have been used by Tana to escape media attention", and a miniature Fimo model of the ex-All Black captain.
Jolly Poacher (the bar in which the incident occured) owner Brent McCully also tried to jump on the bagwagon by putting his security camera footage of the incident up for auction. Bids for the 30 second "grainy" footage reached NZ$5,000 (£1,700) before being pulled. The entrepreneurial bar owner even removed the section of carpet on which the assault took place, looking to make a quick buck.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Akaroa artist Ian Robertson knocked together an acrylic copy of the TradeMe handbag photograph in just over a minute. He sold it for NZ$600(£201).
However, a pure example of Kiwi ingenuity is the business HandbagIT, also posted on TradeMe for sale, and currently fetching a price of NZ$50 (£17).
As the website reads, here's how the company works:
- You select the celebrity you want hit with a handbag
- Send in your handbag and any relevant content (cellphones are popular)
- We stalk and then hit your chosen celebrity with your handbag and capture this on camera
- Your handbag and photo is placed on Trademe
- You make money!
HandbagIT charges a one-off fee of $99 along with a commision of 25 per cent of total TradeMe auction earnings, which could be quite a money-spinner if the Umaga auction is anything to go by.
But the most bizarre posting yet is the handbag on toast. The auction, which has already reached NZ$20 (£7), says:
This morning I got out of bed late (Queens Birthday) and put my bread in my Sunbeam 2-slice toaster. As I waited for my bread to toast, I read the paper and shook my head in disbelief when I read a handbag sold for $22,000 after Tana Umaga used it to slap his teammate Chris Masoe over the face.
I thought to myself; "at least now the fuc**** handbag is sold the whole story can die down and go away and we can start taking interest in the East Timor conflict."
Then I thought: "I'd better check my bread." (the toaster is 7 years old so sometimes the pop-up function jams).
What happened next just about caused me to drop my yoghurt on the floor. The piece of toast was smoking in the corners, almost to the point of burning. But the middle of the bread was practically untouched. I thought: "I might have to go to Briscoes today and buy a new toaster."
Then I thought: "Wait a minute, this is a sign." It dawned on me that this slice of toast was a gift, a miracle. It became obvious to me that this slice of toast is an image of New Zealand's most famous handbag: The bag that was bought from a surf shop, left on a bar, snatched by an All Black legend, slapped a super 14 player to the point of tears, listed on trade me, then sold to a lady in Wanganui with bad teeth for $22,000.
As verification of it's authenticity I can supply samples of other pieces of bread that have been toasted in the same unit which look nothing like a handbag.
The reserve on this item is the replacement cost: 18 cents. But, obviously, a smart investor will see the long term value in this one of a kind collectors piece.
The first $3000 raised will be used to pay for Chris Masoes fine to the Wellington Rugby Union. Any proceeds left after that will be used to buy Tana a belt bag - not as attractive as a Roxy Handbag, but very effective for the disciplining of team mates.
Reportedly, the Umaga cottage industry phenomenon has drawn criticism from some corners. But, if someone's willing to pay 20 bucks for a piece of toast or $22,000 for a handbag that's become part of NZ rugby history, fair play to the geezers clever enough to flog 'em off. ®