Notorious B.I.G.’s crown & more up for sale at Sotheby’s first hip hop auction
Sotheby's has put plenty of rock artifacts on auction in the past, including items from David Bowie's private art collection, CBGB's iconic awning, an early Andy Warhol portrait painting of Debby Harry, and more. This year, though, they're holding their very first auction devoted to hip-hop, which will take place on September 15th in New York.
The entire auction was organized in collaboration with Monica Lynch, the former president of Tommy Boy Records, and traces the impact of the genre from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s "Golden Age." It will offer a collection of over 120 vintage and modern artifacts, jewelry, fashion, fine art, photography, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, and much more.
While the full roster of the auction's offerings won't become public until a later date, Sotheby's has confirmed the contents of two lots with Rolling Stone. The first is a set of love letters from a teenage Tupac Shakur, which were written between 1987 and '88 to his high school girlfriend, Kathy Loy, when he was 16 years-old. The letters detail the pair's two-month relationship, (including a "letter of regret" that was sent a year later), and also offer insight into Tupac's friendship with his classmate, Jada Pinkett. They're estimated to be worth between $60,000 and $80,000.
Next is Notorious B.I.G.'s crown, seen in the picture above, which he wore during his last photoshoot, with Barron Claiborne, before his untimely death. "Anybody who lived through the '90s knows Biggie's crown," senior Sotheby's specialist Cassandra Hatton said. "It's been on T-shirts, it's been on the cover of magazines. I expect that [it] could sell for a lot more because it is so recognizable" The entire lot includes a set of three unique prints from the shoot (made and signed by Claiborne), plus a contact sheet, and is estimated to sell for up to $300,000.
An exhibit dedicated to all the items up for auction will be on view by appointment at the Sotheby's gallery in New York between September 11th and 15th, with an additional online exhibition available to the public.
A portion of proceeds will benefit Queens Public Library Foundation's Hip Hop Programs, and Building Beats, a non-profit that aims to teach tech, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills to under-served kids through DJ and music programs.