One elite auction house is suing another for hiring away members of its staff, including an expert on high-end French handbags.

Heritage Auctions sued Christie's International for $40 million on Friday.

Heritage is a Texas-based company that specializes in auctioning expensive accessories.

The suit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. It charges that the more famous Christie's persuaded Hermes handbag expert Matthew Rubinger and two associates to break their contracts with Heritage.

A Christie's spokeswoman said the suit was "without merit."

The suit offers a peak at the rarefied world of Manhattan auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's.

Both auction houses have been begun branching out from just moving art and have had a new focus on luxury accessories.