There is a pricey new plot twist in the Birkin bag scandal storming through Manhattan high society. George Mickum has already been accused of selling fake Hermès bags to slews of scenesters he was (once) friends with. Now Avenue has uncovered that Mickum was also tricking his well-heeled gal pals into buying fake jewelry to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Allegedly, Mickum sold a onetime BFF a ring for $100,000, claiming it was really worth $500,000. The woman had also purchased numerous fake Birkins from him. At least one other party pal supposedly purchased phony jewelry from him.
Avenue was also told that Mickum left a boat ride in Bodrum, Turkey, with a satchel full of very expensive jewelry belonging to his hostess, promising to transport them to shore on her behalf. Suspiciously, he claimed the jewels were confiscated by customs. The hostess is still frantically trying to retrieve them.
“George is a total grifter,” a New York fashion executive, who asked not to be identified, tells Avenue. “He goes to any party he can to social climb and meet people. He can spot and target a rich person in any room. He studies people, like a talented Mr. Ripley.”
Another source told us: “When I was informed of his multiple crimes, I cut him off and blocked him on social media. I feel badly for anyone he conned and hope he makes full restitution.”
Mickum is oft-photographed at tony events with types like publishing heiress Gillian Hearst (who has since blocked him on Instagram). He has attended fancy galas and benefits like Save Venice, The Frick Collection Young Fellows Ball, and the Couture Council Luncheon, usually toting Birkin bags. But a top stylist on the circuit quipped: “They’re always fake. I’ve never seen him with a real Birkin.”
A graduate of the University of Delaware, Mickum is the son of D.C. lobbyist Sally A. Painter, who was briefly a senior advisor to the Clinton administration in the ’90s. Until recently, Mickum was listed as a broker at Douglas Elliman, though his profile has since been removed from their site (a rep from Elliman declined to comment).
At cocktail parties from Aspen to Art Basel, he would boast that he was friends with British royals and Persian princesses. He liked to tell people that he lived on a diet of caviar and champagne.
Our fashion executive source says Mickum had a habit of asking designers to loan him expensive clothes on behalf of celebrities. “He said he was very good friends with the Kardashianas and Jenners. He promised that he could get them to wear whatever he brings them. He would take the clothes and never return them and no celebrities would ever be seen in anything.”
For his longtime Birkin scam, Mickum told hapless fashionistas that he was chummy with Hermès executive Michael Coste, a very private figure known for bestowing Birkins to a select few. Mickum would then hawk bags he claimed he received from Coste for up to $20,000 a pop. His scam was revealed when victims brought the Birkins to get authenticated, learned they were missing a crucial Hermès date stamp, and thus were fakes. The New York Post reports that Mickum has paid some of his friends back, transferring $22,000 to the account of one woman. Evidently, the husband of another Mickum victim demanded to know where the fake bags came from, and a crying Mickum admitted he bought them online.
Yall know all my bags have date stamps♬ original sound – Hannah Stella
Most of Mickum’s victims won’t speak about being conned. “All these women are embarrassed to use their names because they were duped by a crazy, lying, social climbing con man,” a socialite told us under promise of anonymity.
Rumor is, Mickum fled to his mother’s house in Washington, D.C., once the scandal broke. But we also heard he was spotted the night of the Post story at Caviar Kaspia at the Mark Hotel, nibbling on pricey black fish eggs, a navy mini Birkin at his side. Avenue reached out to Mickum by email and phone for comment, but did not hear back.
“The sad part is that he is so likable,” says a gallerist who hobnobbed with Mickum in New York and the Hamptons. “His mother is super connected and successful, but maybe George’s insecurity was that he was neither. Maybe he felt he couldn’t keep up appearances without actual money.”
“It’s unfortunate that this shady character is getting so much attention,” the socialite concluded. “But I guess people need to be warned. In a way this is a community service announcement.”