Bringing Home the Birkin, Michael Tonello
en
Michael Tonello

Bringing Home the Birkin

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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 Hermès 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 Hermès, 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 Hermès 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 Hermès 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.
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I spent the first morning in Moscow sightseeing with Juan, taken off guard by both the bitter cold and the haphazard class distinctions among the people. After living in a Spanish city where both the thermometer and the socioeconomic ladder lacked such extremes, my system definitely felt the shock. Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, and Louis Vuitton all had multiple store locations, but parked on the same street were fifty-year-old cars rotting from rust. And the landscape was dominated by gray—gray skies, gray streets, gray faces. It’s not that I didn’t think it was beautiful…I did. Red Square, the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral—how could you feel anything but awe when you looked at the onion domes? Plus, Juan and I had a gorgeous room at the Park Hyatt, a luxury hotel in a central location. It was really that Moscow fell squarely into the same category as Vegas—great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there

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