skip to navigation

Special Deal on Local Flavor: $20 for 2 Adult Multi-Site Museum Passes. Click here for more information!


Visitor Center Hours

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

All Site Hours Pennsylvania ‘s Ilene Hochberg Wood Owns 3000 Exquisite Handbags

October 21st, 2019 |

October 19, 2019 | In The News

Written by Tamina Ray for RepublicWorld

Any fashionista would fall to their knees once they ogle at the exquisite collection of 3000 handbags owned by a woman named Ilene Hochberg Wood who has reportedly stacked them in a 2,400-square-foot Quonset hut on her Lehigh Valley estate. The 64-year-old has everything you name from cross bodies, clutches, wristlets, duffels, hobos, and backpacks cited reports. Her collection also includes handbags in different shapes such as a Converse sneaker, shoulder bag, and other pieces like a pocketbook stamped with the Hess Brothers department-store logo. Yet the showstoppers of her mind-boggling collection are her own designer bags. As one enlists the remaining of the 3000 bags, she also has Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Moschino, Judith Leiber Minaudieres, Edie Parker clutches, and Louis Vuitton satchels. The bag enthusiast also boasts of scores of Kellys and Birkins. Hochberg also has 19 rare Anne Marie of Paris’ sculptural darlings. 

Wood’s costliest bag and full proof storage 

Of the 3000, Wood’s costliest bag is a flaming-red, 40-centimeter crocodile Kelly that she estimates to be worth at least 100,000. She houses all her prized possessions in an impenetrable, stainless steel bunker, outfitted with electronic doors and alarms. Speaking of where she acquired it, Wood told the media that she ordered it online seven years ago from the Army. The bunker’s space is filled with sealed 18-gallon plastic storage bins stacked on top of each other that are overflowing with bags with two jaguars on the other side. In order to further organize it, Wood has labeled them thematically under “wooden top handle,” “leather shoulder bags,” and “evening bags” tapes on the exterior. It’s not that Hochberg owns bags with staggering price tags, she is said to buy bags that cost just USD10 or less. 

“I collect handbags on every level. Not everyone can spend on handbags what it costs to buy a car or a house and I get it…My collection is about the democratization of fashion,” Wood said.

PURSEonality: A Stylish Handbag History

The Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites debuted “PURSEonality: A Stylish Handbag History” at three Lehigh Valley museums, starring hundreds of handbags from Wood’s collection earlier in October. Yet the bag lover aims to open her own handbag museum. She said to the media that “PURSEonality,” which will run through April 30, 2020 is the first step. The show marks the first exhibition of Wood’s massive collection. Experts said the media that her collection is the largest private collection in the world following the public collection of Handbag Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam which has 5000 bags. 

Read more.

Our Partners


Translate the Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites website into your language of choice!