Notorious B.I.G.’s $6 Plastic Crown Sells for Nearly $600,000 at Sotheby’s First Hip-Hop Auction


The $6 plastic crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. at a photograph shoot days earlier than his loss of life was auctioned off for $595,000 on Tuesday on the first-ever Sotheby’s public sale targeted on hip-hop memorabilia.

The crown — which was offered by photographer Barron Claiborne — greater than doubled the pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It was was autographed by the rapper (actual identify: Christopher Wallace) and Claiborne; the lot included three prints from the picture shoot.

Overall, the public sale reached $2 million, surpassing its excessive estimate with 91% of all heaps offered. It boasted greater than 400 registered bidders, over 25% of whom had been new to Sotheby’s, from 19 nations world wide.

Other objects offered embrace Fab 5 Freddy’s {custom} MTV ring; an entire run of The Source journal; Salt-N-Pepa’s well-known “Push It” jackets; an archive of affection letters written by teenaged Tupac Shakur’s; a pair of {custom} Air Force 1 by Ms. Opal Lee, Niko Brim, and Sierato in honor of Juneteenth Holiday Campaign; Dr. Dre’s shiny World Class Wreckin’ Cru “Wrapped in Romance” swimsuit; a canopy research for De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising album; and extra.

Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department stated, “We are thrilled with the results from tonight’s historic Hip Hop auction in New York, the birthplace of hip-hop. Since the idea of this sale first began taking shape more than seven years ago, before coming together in earnest two years ago after I was introduced to [former Tommy Boy Records executive] Monica Lynch, it has been a labor of love to organize an auction of this magnitude and significance at Sotheby’s.”

A portion of Sotheby’s proceeds will profit the Queens Public Library Foundation, to assist their Hip Hop Programs, coordinated by “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, in addition to Building Beats, a non-profit neighborhood group that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and management abilities to underserved youth via DJ and music applications.

The public sale was organized in collaboration with Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records (1981-1998) who helped launch the careers of legends Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force, Queen Latifah, De La Soul, and Naughty by Nature, amongst many others.


The public sale was led by the crown worn by Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie/Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G.) throughout the 1997 ‘K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)’ portrait session, which offered for $594,750. Five bidders competed for greater than 7 minutes driving the worth to nearly triple the low estimate of $200,000. Recently showcased within the groundbreaking guide and exhibition Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop by Vikki Tobak, the crown was supplied by the photographer Barron Claiborne, whose possession it has remained for the reason that ‘K.O.N.Y’ photoshoot, which befell simply three days earlier than Biggie was killed in Los Angeles. Included within the lot are three specifically sized (36 x 40″) prints – all 1/1 printed and signed by Claiborne – of the enduring ‘K.O.N.Y’ {photograph}, the 10th anniversary Okay.O.N.Y. {photograph}, and the contact sheet. The inside of the crown bears the inscription “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97” and is signed by each Biggie and Claiborne.

Hired by Rap Pages Magazine to {photograph} Biggie for the duvet, Claiborne’s idea was to painting the rapper because the King of New York on his throne however in a stripped-down method – a departure from the favored excessive Hip Hop imagery of the late 90s. To fashion Biggie as royal, Claiborne introduced two crowns of various sizes to the shoot; one was far too small, and to be able to make the now-legendary crown match, the inside foam cushioning needed to be eliminated. Sean “Diddy” Combs, proprietor of Biggie’s label Bad Boy Records, accompanied the artist on the shoot, and was reportedly sad with the idea, worrying that it made him appear like “the Burger King”. However, Biggie was open to the thought, leading to some of the recognizable pictures in Hip Hop tradition and some of the well-known Hip Hop portraits ever taken.

Another standout lot was a Rammellzee vs. Okay-Rob “Beat Bop” authentic, sealed 12-inch single that includes authentic paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1983. Considered a “holy grail” Hip Hop document, the vinyl achieved $126,000 – exceeding its excessive estimate by greater than 50 instances. In addition to creating the graffiti-influenced cowl and label paintings, Basquiat additionally produced, directed and independently issued the vinyl in a run of solely 500 copies on his personal Tartown Inc. label. The vinyl was consigned by Profile Records Co-Founder Cory Robbins, who might be donating 100% of the sale proceeds to the Archive of Contemporary Music. The sale additionally marks the LP as the costliest vinyl Hip Hop document offered at public sale.

Created by world-renowned Roc Nation DJ and collector of all issues Hip Hop, DJ Ross One, The Wall of Boom offered for $113,400. The artwork set up options 32 extraordinarily uncommon and classic boomboxes from the early 1980s via the early 1990s, displayed collectively on a custom-built shelf, and wired collectively to perform as a singular sound system.

An archive of 22 autographed love letters written by a 16-year-old Tupac Shakur to Kathy Loy, a highschool sweetheart and fellow scholar on the Baltimore School for the Arts fetched $75,600. A complete of 42 pages on 24 sheets of paper and one greeting card, the letters vary in date from late March 1987 to April 1988 and chronicle the approximately two-month lengthy romance between the pair – spanning their first assembly, to their eventual break-up, and a letter of remorse despatched a yr later. The heartfelt and sweetly honest correspondence reveals Shakur’s vulnerability and naturally poetic writing-style, with frequent lyrical turns and separate love poems included within the physique of the letters, which set the muse for his distinctive fashion and tone as a rapper. Shakur writes about his nascent music profession, divulging his doubts about pursuing rap as a occupation, along with offering small glimpses into his home life with mentions of his mom working late night time and his obligations to assist take care of his cousins.



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