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Why this Migros carrier bag is worth CHF 14,000

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Marlies Seifert

Published

03.02.2022

Migros-Tragtasche mit Kunst von Nicolas Party, von beiden Seiten

It is made of the same paper as the other carrier bags that sell for CHF 0.30. This carrier bag, however, is a record-breaker because it was designed by Swiss art star Nicolas Party.

At the end of January, the news on social media of a Migros carrier bag selling for several thousand Swiss francs drew gasps of amazement. The bag was sold by a London auction house for more than CHF 5000. How can that be? The short answer is that it is down to the art market. For a more detailed answer, we have to take a closer look at the corpus delicti. The paper bag worth a five-figure sum is what is known as an artist carrier bag. It was designed by French-Swiss artist Nicolas Party in 2014. 

 

Every year, in collaboration with the Migros Culture Percentage, Migros Zurich produces two carrier bags designed by artists. They sell for CHF 0.30 at Migros stores just like ordinary paper carrier bags. Some 60‘000 bags of each design are thus brought into circulation. In addition to Nicolas Party, other well-known artists including Pipilotti Rist and Walter Pfeiffer have designed a Migros carrier bag. «We also approach artists who are not so well-known, but who have attracted attention in the art scene. So you can also see the project as promoting art. Overall, a good mix is very important to us», commented Heike Munder, Director of Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst a few years ago in the Migros magazine. «While some people regard them as art, others simply collect the bags because they like them. That’s what makes the project so thrilling,» she adds.

Rückseite eines Rahmens mit einer Migros-Tragtasche mit Kunst von Nicolas Party

One of Nicolas Party's artist tote bags recently auctioned off by Phillips Auction House in London. Picture: phillips.com/zVg

So could it be that you have a small fortune lurking in your wastepaper collection? Not quite, unfortunately. Although the artist carrier bags enhance the streetscape and let us all carry art over our arm, they are unlikely to increase much in value, if at all. The Migros carrier bag that was recently auctioned for a lot of money is one of a special edition signed by Nicolas Party. In each run of artist carrier bags, 80 are numbered and signed by the artist. Due to their rarity, these Migros carrier bags may become a worthwhile investment.

Just a year ago, another Party edition bag sold for the equivalent of CHF 14‘000. «The high prices commanded by the Nicolas Party carrier bags are a phenomenon and also took us by surprise,» says Nadia Schneider Willen, Collection Curator of Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst on the auction news. «The high prices stem from the fact that Nicolas Party is a shooting star in the international art scene, and his works are in high demand on the art market,» as she explains.

Künstler*innentragetasche, gestalltet von Pedro Wirz

Photo: Pedro Wirz artist carrier bag, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst

Signed carrier bags are on sale at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst or in its web shop for CHF 100. The latest model (in the picture) is by Pedro Wirz whose works are currently on display at the Kunsthalle Basel. It’s worth investing in. Perhaps now more than ever before.

Photo/stage: Pedro Wirz artist carrier bag, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst

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