The item, signed by the rapper days before his death in 1997, smashed auction estimates that had originally valued it between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000.
The crown, famous for Notorious BIG, is pictured in New York before Tuesday’s sale. Credit: Cindy Ord / Getty Images
Other parties included a five-piece drum kit once used by Questlove of The Roots and one by rapper Slick Rick’s diamond eyes, which sold for $ 30,240 and $ 25,200, respectively. A pair of “Push It” jackets worn by hip-hop duo Salt-N-Pepa in a 2015 Super Bowl commercial went for nearly $ 24,000.
Elsewhere, a collection of letters written by a teenager, Tupac Shakur, to a fellow student at Baltimore School of the Arts also went under the hammer. Described by the auction house as “incredibly sweet and at times steamy”, the handwritten correspondence sold for $ 75,600.
In a pre-sale press release, Sotheby’s vice president of books and manuscripts, Cassandra Hatton, said Biggie’s crown and Tupac’s love letters offered and “introspectively look in their own way at the personalities behind their respective public personas.”
An archive of 22 love letters written by Tupac Shakur sold for over $ 75,000. Credit: Cindy Ord / Getty Images
“Since its birth in the Bronx in the 1970s, hip-hop has become a global cultural force whose enormous influence continues to shape all cultures: music, fashion, design, art, film, social attitudes, language and more,” she said. quoted to say. “This sale is a celebration of the origins and early epochs of this influence.”
A fateful photoshoot
The crown, once worn by Notorious BIG, was offered for sale by photographer Barron Claiborne, who had kept the item since styling the rapper as “King of New York” in a photo shoot for Rap Pages magazine. After acquiring two dollars, Claiborne found that both were too small for Biggie’s head, though he was able to use one by removing its defoam.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, who owned Biggie’s label Bad Boy Records, was also present at the recording in 1997. According to Sotheby’s, Combs at the time expressed concern that the images would make the rapper look like “Burger King.”
The infamous BIG wearing his “KONY (King of New York)” crown, which is on its way to auction as part of Sotheby’s hip hop sale Credit: Barron Claireborn
Recording continued anyway, and the resulting photos became some of hip hop’s most recognizable and lasting portraits. In a press release released through Sotheby’s, Claiborne described the crown as an “iconic piece of hip-hop history.”
With the tragic events unfolding just days after the photo shoot, this image of a crowned infamous BIG became much more than a portrait – the image transformed Biggie Smalls into an aristocratic or saint-like figure, forever immortalized as not only the King of New York , but a king of hip hop music and one of the greatest artists ever, ”said the photographer.
The crown depicted in Sotheby’s New York before the sale. Credit: Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images
Tuesday’s auction also featured various hip hop-inspired luxury items and contemporary artwork. A collection of boomboxes from the 1980s and 1990s, transformed into an art installation titled “The Wall of Boom” by DJ Ross One, was one of the evening’s biggest sellers and went for over $ 113,000.
Among the 120 parties, there were also a number of “experiences”, including virtual wine tasting with Big Daddy Kane and a private styling session with Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan.
Part of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to charities, including the New York Queens Public Library Foundation, which coordinates hip-hop community programs.