Tyler Shields Feeds Genuine $100K Hermes Bag to a Gator… Because… Art

It’s a safe bet the majority of people consider $100,000 a bit steep for a handbag, and if they were ever given one as a gift, they would probably go to extreme lengths to make sure it was never damaged (or… you know… sell it). But that’s not how photographer Tyler Shields treats his $100K gifts… he feeds them to an alligator in order to capture some unique photography.

Okay, so maybe that’s a generalization (we doubt he feeds ALL of the gifts he receives to a willing alligator) but that’s exactly what he did with a $100K, genuine Hermes bag, as you can see from the video above.

The great news is that it wasn’t a complete waste. We’d guess Shields doesn’t have much use for a purse in his day-to-day, and so he instead put it to the most logical use a photographer can put an object to when he already has all the gear he could possibly want: he got some interesting fashion shots out of it:



When we caught up with Shields to ask permission to share these images, we also asked him to confirm or deny the bag’s authenticity. PurseBlog, a blog that ‘outed’ Shields the last time he destroyed what they deemed to be a fake Hermes, believes it is “highly unlikely that the bag is real” for a number of reasons.

Believe who you will, but this is what Shields had to say when we spoke with him:

The bag was very real. It was given to me as a gift by Gina Ginsburg, who has over 40 of them. She gave it to me for my birthday, which is a little something no one knows.



The photos of model Ana Mulvoy Ten fighting with the alligator over the bag are going to end up in a new art series Shields is working on called “Indulgence,” which also includes things like Prada popcorn.

To find out more about the photo shoot, head over to RE-TOX, the guys who shot the original video. And if you’d like to weigh in on the authenticity of the purse debate, well, this might be your only chance to talk about purses in our comment section… have at it.

(via ISO 1200)

Photo credits: Photographs by Tyler Shields and used with permission

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    I like the first two, but the last two seemed rather… Amateurish. Especially the last one. What’s even going on in the third and final shots?

  • Adam Cross

    meh. also pretty sad since that bag is made of either crocodile or alligator skin

  • Kyla Fear

    the only one that is at all interesting is the second one down… Get what he’s goin for with the “indulgence” etc but mostly it seems flat.

  • ms

    poor execution

  • Dominick

    100k? The world is gone fuckin’ mad! People are starving folks!

  • superduckz

    100K is merely the price. I’m sure the actual “cost” of making the bag is at least 99% less… thus the need for asinine over the top marketing campaigns to make the suckers who buy one “feel” better about their purchase… whatever..

  • bob cooley

    Ruined a 100k bag for that outcome? :(

  • enases

    A good photographer can make a interesting shot of a 5-cent bag, a mediocre photographer needs the kick of extraordinary expensive …

  • Jack McKechnie

    I wouldn’t get this close to an alligator….great shot but was it good enough to put a model at risk like that?

  • Paff

    oh shut up!

  • Larissa

    As far as tasteless art goes, I’d say this would be in the top 3. Feed a bag that used to be a living creature to a living creature of the same species. THIS IS A GREAT IDEA. I hate people.
    What’s more, you can’t just take random/boring things and paint them or photograph them or glue them together and call it art.

  • enases

    As long, as I like and see a reason to comment things, I will do it. If you have no arguments whatsoever, maybe you should be the one to hold back!

  • jen

    I love this series! I saw it today in London and it was so incredible!

  • jen

    : )

  • Lovermoon

    Honestly @ DL Cade why didn’t you post the whole series? What I don’t understand is why you guys don’t cover this guy more often he sells prints for hundreds of thousands of dollars and does whatever he wants, Yet you post nice things about Karl Taylor who is the worst photographer of all time and you post weird mean things about this guy who is the real deal its very odd to me. Where is the proper Tyler Shields Art posts?

    Where is the info the real photography news:

    These prints are 50k each he does editions of 3.
    Galleries around the world.
    They sell out.

    I want to know HOW HE DOES THAT much more then how Karl Taylor lights a bottle of Vodka for the 300th time…

    Sorry long rant but at the end of the day I trust this site for my information and I want just like everyone else on here to know how, how do people do what they do.

    How did Tyler Shields start selling prints for hundreds of thousands of dollars and how does he get people to buy them how does he print what camera does he use?

    I do not however care about a bag being real or fake.

  • jen

    Welp it seems my comment was deleted….

    Genius and I love it he is my favorite artist in the world!

  • jen

    Oops My comment is here : )

  • jen

    Try and do it better : )

  • Gordon

    I think its perfectly fine for him to make art like this…Its in galleries all over the world not just online. At the end of the day he’s making stuff that makes people talk and thats fun. You guys published it.

  • Mark Arris

    Pretty crazy idea! You can see the same pattern on the bag and the gator.
    He has some really beautiful stuff from his recent series’. This seems to be a random concept that he just thought would be interesting to shoot. Definitely strange but hey don’t like, don’t look. I like ;)

  • Mark Arris


  • Gordon

    Thats nuts I see it too! Its a brilliant controversial body of work. Not something I would put in my office but maybe my ex wife’s closet lol

  • Gordon

    But everyone on instagram already does. Isn’t it kinda fun to see it on a grand scale for fun? If you can why not I guess.

  • Sophie

    Whether the bag is real or fake is kind of irrelevant to me. I thought art was supposed to elicit some kind of emotion? That is what he does through his work, isn’t it? I can’t recall who first stated this, but- art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable- it seems this he what he is doing. Whether people love it or hate it, they have an opinion, he causes people to feel something, whatever that may be. As to poor execution, I don’t know any artist who has shot an alligator with an actress? I’d like to see anyone else try… This too is kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. From what I have read, and interviews I have seen, this artist takes pictures of what he wants, with whoever he wants and then sells them for hundreds of thousands of dollars in galleries all over the world. Sounds like he has it figured out.

  • Sophie

    I agree that’s an insane amount of money for a bag, but him using that bag in a shoot isn’t going to change people starving? Any complaints should go to Hermes for making the bag not to him for taking a picture of it. People have the right to spend their money on what they want. If anything he’s raising awareness on how crazy it is that people buy these

  • Dave

    Its an interpretation on some wild topic. I think its fascinating that a creature is eating itself. He’s not the company that killed the gator to make the bag, and the gator he used seemed to have been treated like a Hollywood star. I don’t understand any hatred this stuff gets.

  • jen

    Sophie I just tweeted you, DM me back.

  • Sophie

    People who say they hate people tend to hate themselves. You could see the brighter side and see that maybe he was trying to show people the harsh reality of what actually goes on to make these bags? Everyone interprets things in their own way. People turn a blind eye to how bags are made but he’s putting it on blast. It makes me not ever want an alligator bag

  • Jay Dee

    The whole project is pathetic and gratuitous. These creatures are killed so that they can get turned into shoes and belts and handbags for rich people, and then we turn around and taunt them for our voyeuristic gratification and call it art.

  • cfw

    This photographer strikes me as a real prick, without much imagination: “Let’s put a little gator on a bunch of concrete, surrounded by concrete, completely out of its element, and take some cheesy photos with a scantily clad girl. Like, cool, yeah.”


  • Paff

    who the f are you to define who is mediocre and who is a good photog? Here’s my version then, a good photog do whatever the f he wants, a mediocre goes on blogs and judges other people’s work.

  • Justin Sheely

    I agree, except for the third shot, i think is clever. The last shot is kinda boring.

  • bob cooley

    If you read a lot of the articles published here, that is not a mark of distinction… :)

  • bob cooley

    Well, I’d say a lot of us who are on here who are experienced, widely published professionals who have been making a living from the craft for decades.

    Also those of us who have worked as ADs and Creative Directors. I think we have a pretty good idea of what’s good and what’s mediocre…

  • George Johnson

    Art is to stimulate discussion I suppose but this one’s a bit of a miss for me I’m afraid. I’m not saying art has to have a point or purpose but I’m genuinely a bit confused as to why it had to be an expensive bag, surely a $100 bag would have done just as well. Then again I suppose if he’d simply done it with dirt cheap bag he wouldn’t be able generate a marketing buzz and sell the final images for a tidy sum, there wouldn’t be so much fuss and we wouldn’t be here discussing it!

  • Peter “Pots”

    I consider this a real stretch…maybe because I don’t have $100,000 to give away unless the payback to a heck of a lot more. I am sorry, I don’t like any of the images!

  • russel

    I don’t agree, I think this is executed to perfection. Makes me happy he does not use photoshop and has real people doing real things.

  • Ridgecity

    It’s a chinese fake. It wouldn’t work as a publicity stunt if he said it wasn’t. They look so real until you smell them: genuine chinese plastic.

  • Daniel Walldorf

    Well.. Would the world stop starving if he would not have made this shooting?

  • jett

    being controversial. thats how you get your name out there

  • jett


  • jett

    no offense to you. i saw your portflio and you are a great photographer BUT its nothing really that stands out. this guy’s work STANDS out. you and i would be lying if we said NO THIS STUFF IS LIKE THE THOUSANDS OF PHOTOS OUT THERE (portraits, landscapes etc…) it will be talked about in a bad or a good way, nonetheless people will talk about it.

    Its a crocodile, biting on a hermes bag with a model. HE CAME UP WITH THIS. not us, most of us would shoot landscapes and portraits of chinese people. his vision for the series IS UNIQUE.

  • bob cooley

    None taken, I let my client list speak for itself.

  • Al Borrelli

    Says the guy going on “blogs and judges other people’s” opinions. You funny mista.

  • Ridgecity

    How to you get that “statement” from those photos? He needed to photoshop in some alligator tears.

  • Larissa

    Nah I love myself. I don’t actually hate people. Well, very few.
    But no, he wasn’t trying to make people realize where their bags come from, but I’m VERY happy to hear this made you not want an alligator bag! May I suggest you also watch a bit of “Earthlings” so you may stay clear of leather, angora and fur too? (if that’s not already the case!)

  • David Vaughn

    Irrelevant to the statement about poor execution

  • Daniel Walldorf

    Well… I get that ethical point you’re trying to make but to be honest, in my opinion, that is bullsh*t. He was trying to get some attention for his work. Success. He, feeding a billion dollar child-hand-made bag to an alligator, you and me writing comments about how that is not correct, it all doesn’t matter. People starve and that’s not nice. If you want to do something against it, there are ways to do so. I mean he didn’t rob a supply delivery of food for Africa. You just feel it’s not cool that people starve and you probably don’t do much against it. But than you see this guy, wasting something worthful and now it is his fault that you don’t help these poor people. Just think about it. This stupid bag doesn’t matter at all and it doesn’t change anything. The only thing that changes is that YOU now finally have someone you can blame for the things that you don’t like on earth.