Biggie’s crown among auction items

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Rivals in life, rappers Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur unite for an auction at Sotheby’s, the first auction dedicated to hip-hop in a major international auction house.

Bidders can vie for the crown worn and signed by the Notorious BIG during a 1997 photoshoot held three days before he was killed in Los Angeles. They will also be able to bid on an archive of 22 autographed love letters written by Shakur at the age of 15-17 to a high school sweetheart.

The auction will take place on September 15 and includes over 120 lots related to hip-hop. The items can be viewed in person – reservations are required during the pandemic – at Sotheby’s in New York and the exhibit will also be accessible to the public online through its digital gallery.

“The impact of hip-hop is everywhere – sneakers, clothing, jewelry, art, music. I wanted to have a sale that truly recognizes how huge that impact is,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s senior specialist who has organized the sale.

Estimates for headlining lots – $ 200,000 to $ 300,000 for the crown and $ 60,000 to $ 80,000 for letters – are low, in hopes that the auction house could attract the first ones. bidders and show that it’s not just a stuffy place for millions of dollars. watches and paintings.


Old friends who became rivals in a war fueled by the hype between the East Coast and West Coast rap scenes, Shakur and the Notorious BIG – also known as Biggie Smalls – were taken down a few months apart.

Both crimes remain unsolved.

The crown has been in the possession of photographer Barron Claiborne since he captured Biggie for the cover of Rap Pages magazine.

Claiborne had provided the prop, hoping to portray Biggie as the King of New York. Sean “Diddy” Combs, owner of Biggie Bad Boy Entertainment’s label, was with the rapper during the photoshoot.

“I saw the crown. Everyone saw the crown. It’s so famous. It’s so iconic. When I first thought about making this sale, I thought, ‘It doesn’t Wouldn’t it be great to find that crown? “” Hatton mentioned. “I’ve sold all kinds of wild stuff. But it’s a little different.”

Shakur’s Letters – many on fixed, lined pages with neat handwriting – were written in 1987 and 1988 to Kathy Loy, a classmate at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The 42 pages chronicle their romance of about two months, including a letter of regret for breaking up sent a year later. Loy provided the auction letters.

“I will always be there for you,” Shakur wrote to him in one. In a poem we write: “Everything is so beautiful / since I fell in love.” Treasure also reveals his friendship with his classmate Jada Pinkett Smith, whom he mentions in a letter: “Jada told me she could see how much I love you.”

What interests Hatton most is the tone of the letters. Unlike Shakur’s tough public figure, the letters reveal a “gentle, poetic and sensitive young man.”

The auction is part of Sotheby’s recent trend of embracing popular culture items, including hosting the first sneaker auction at one of the major auction houses in July 2019. A pair of Nikes worn by Michael Jordan was recently auctioned off by Christie’s for a save $ 615,000.


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