Notorious B.I.G.’s Crown Tops Sotheby’s First Hip-Hop Auction

Also on the docket: a collection of love letters written by a 16-year-old Tupac Shakur.

The esteemed auction house Sotheby’s is getting into the rap game. They’re set to kick off the world’s first international auction dedicated solely to hip-hop with a sale topped by a plastic crown worn by late rapper Notorious B.I.G. The rapper sported the prop in the legendary 1996 “King of New York” shoot with photographer Barron Claiborne. Three days after the session, the rapper was murdered in Los Angeles. Sotheby’s is estimating that the crown could go for anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000.

“I expect that the crown could sell for a lot more because it’s so recognizable,” Cassandra Hatton, the senior Sotheby’s specialist in the books and manuscripts department who put the auction together, explained to Reuters. “Anybody who lived through the ’90s knows Biggie’s crown. It’s been on T-shirts, it’s been on the covers of magazines, it’s so iconic.” The piece comes direct from the photographer, and is hand-signed by Claiborne and the late rapper.

Other items up for auction during the sale include a collection of twenty-two love letters written by a sixteen-year-old Tupac Shakur to his high school sweetheart. They’re expected to pull anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000.

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It was all a dream… Today we announced that on 15 September in #NYC we will present a live auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop, headlined by one of the most iconic symbols of Hip Hop’s heyday: the crown 👑 worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. from @barronclaiborne’s iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ photoshoot for Rap Pages Magazine. The photograph is one of the most recognizable images in Hip Hop culture and it has endured as the defining portrait of the artist more than 20 years since it was taken. The first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house, the sale reflects on the impact Hip Hop has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present. Featuring over 120 lots, the auction is comprised of unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications, and more with a majority of items consigned directly by artists or their estates. A portion of Sotheby's proceeds from the sale will benefit the Hip Hop programs at the @qplnyc, as well as @buildingbeats, a non-profit community organization that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programs. #hiphop #hiphopmusic #notoriousbig #biggiesmalls #barronclaiborne

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