Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famed black Apsrey handbag went on the auction block Monday, and it sold for a lot less than everyone thought it would go for. A phone bidder from Cyprus called Christie’s in London during the auction late yesterday and took the bag for about $40,000 — a song when you consider it was estimated to be worth over $160,000.
Thatcher used the handbag as a prop to let her political opponents (and sometimes even her allies) know that she meant business. She was even photographed carrying the bag when she came Stateside to meet with President Ronald Reagan in the 80s. The bag was there when her underlings coined the term handbagging, used as a polite way to describe no-nonsense approach she took to getting things done. One member of parliament even joked that, after Thatcher left the purse unattended in a conference room, that the assembled politicians could start their meeting because the handbag was there.
The price of the bag will be donated to charity — portions will go to Combat Stress, The British Forces Foundation, and an organization called Debra that helps people with genetic skin diseases. So why would such an important piece of history sell for so little — especially when it was being sold for a good cause? We’re ever so slightly offended, considering Michael Jackson‘s jacket from Thriller just sold for nearly $2 million. But the fact that it was talked up so much proves something we’ve been thinking all along: fashion really can change the world, and for its ability to do just that, this handbag in particular is priceless.