The Biggie crown was expected to raise only $200,000.
Biggie‘s crown from his 1997 “King of New York” portrait session has now been sold.
The rare item sold for $594,750 during Sotheby’s first-ever auction dedicated to hip-hop. According to a press release from the auction house, five bidders competed for more than seven minutes for the crown, with the price going from its initial estimate of $200,000 to $594,750.
The crown comes from the “King of New York” photo session photographer Barron Claiborne did for Rap Pages magazine. Claiborne’s concept was to portray Biggie as the King of New York, resulting in one of the most popular and recognizable photos in hip-hop. The photoshoot was the rapper’s last before he was killed in Los Angeles three days later. The crown has been in Claiborne’s possession since the photo session.
In a separate report from the New York Post, Claiborne shared where he purchased the crown from and its original, much cheaper price tag.
“This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s,” he said. “Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”
Claiborne also talked about how the iconic image almost didn’t happen because Puff Daddy didn’t like the photographer’s concept.
“He said it would make Biggie look like Burger King,” Claiborne said. “But Biggie didn’t listen. He wore it anyway. And nobody’s ever told me that they look at the photo and think the crown is plastic.”
Along with the crown, the auction also include 22 autographed love letters written by a 16-year-old Tupac Shakur to Kathy Loy, a high school sweetheart and fellow student at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The love letters sold for $75,600.