Old school hip hop will be at the forefront of the Sotheby’s auction on September 15, as legendary items integral to the culture are placed on sale at the world-famous auction. Some of the more noteworthy items on sale include Notorious B.I.G.’s (aka Christopher Wallace) “King of New York Crown” and some letters written by the beloved Tupac (2Pac) Shakur.
The “King of New York” crown was immortalized by the rapper and photographer Barron Claiborne, who captured the rapper wearing the crown only three days before his murder on March 9, 1997. This crown was signed by Claiborne and Wallace and has remained in Claiborne’s possession ever since. This iconic image has been featured on numerous magazine covers, mixtapes, t-shirts and murals across the country. This item is expected to go for $200,000 to $300,000 at the auction
“I’m very excited to share this iconic piece of hip-hop history with the public,” Claiborne said in a statement recorded by NME. “The image transformed Biggie Smalls into an aristocratic or saint like figure, forever immortalised as not only the King of New York, but a king of hip-hop music and one of the greatest artists of all time.”
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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
The 22 love letters written by Shakur were sent to Kathy Loy during their time as a couple at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the late 1980s. These letters document the beginning of their relationship all the way until their eventual break-up, along with a letter of regret sent a year later. These letters discuss Shakur’s doubts about succeeding in a hip hop career and also contain references to his classmate and future actress Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Some of the proceeds from this event will go toward the Queens Public Library and the Building Beats non-profit. Some of Shakur’s classic work with Death Row was recently re-released on Bandcamp as part of a fundraiser earlier this year.