How Sofia Coppola, With the Help of Jeff Koons, Came to Terms with an Old Birkin Bag

At least Sofia Coppola has a sprinkle of humility and a dash of humor about her privileged early adulthood. Recently, she and other celebs like Naomi Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Marc Jacobs, and Princess Caroline of Hanover were persuaded by Jeff Koons to let go of old Birkin bags, which the ubiquitous artist souped up in his own pop way. Last night the bags were auctioned off to benefit Project Perpetual, a children’s charity started by art collector (and wife of a Russian oligarch) Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya, as well as the United Nations Foundation and the Shot@Life Campaign. Coppola addressed the crowd and related the following anecdote:

When I was in my early 20s, my dad was in Paris, and he said, “Do you want anything?” It was my birthday, and I said I would love a Birkin bag from Hermès. I was way too young to have one, but I wanted one. He took out cash and went to the store, but he got the zeros wrong. They said, “Oh, no, no, it’s not that, it’s one more zero.” So I was tortured for years because he always told me, “I can’t believe the price of a handbag you asked me for.” And so he got me the bag and I carried it when I was too young to have one. And then I kept it in my closet because it felt like too much to have. It’s been in my closet, and when Svetlana asked me for a bag I was happy that it would become an art piece and help this cause.

Coppola’s early 20s were also the time of another hand-out from her dad, when he cast her in The Godfather Part III. But unfortunately her thick valley-girl accent prevented her from correctly articulating the name Corleone (thereby earning her a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star). But nepotism and privilege isn’t all bad because the bag pulled a cool $175,000, while the auction raked in $5.5 million.

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