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Auction houses in tug-o-war over luxury handbag expertise

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A lawsuit dubbed “handbag-gate” is currently winding its way through New York’s state court system as Dallas-based Heritage Auctions goes after Christie’s, claiming the London-based auction house stole three of its handbag experts along with trade secrets, Artnet.com’s news site reported in February.

Heritage, which like Christie’s sells vintage and coveted Hermes Birkin and Louis Vuitton handbags that can sell for as high as $117,000, filed the original suit in 2014.

On Feb. 15, a New York State Supreme Court rejected Heritage’s $40 million request for summary judgment, but allowed certain claims to proceed to trial, finding that one expert who went to work for Christie’s may have violated the non-compete clause in his contract with Heritage when he left.

The judge, however, dismissed the claim that two former Heritage associates breached their duty to the Dallas auction house when they switched jobs, according to the news report.

The saga over handbags continues.