Biggie‘s crown from his 1997 “King of New York” portrait session is going to auction.
The item will be a part of Sotheby’s first-ever auction dedicated to hip-hop.
“Since its birth in the Bronx in the 1970s, Hip Hop has become a global cultural force, whose massive influence continues to shape all realms of culture: music, fashion, design, art, film, social attitudes, language, and more,” Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, said in a statement. “This sale is a celebration of the origins and early eras of that influence. We are pleased to announce the auction with two renowned and beloved icons whose lives and lyricism continue to resonate — Biggie and Tupac — with lots that offer an introspective look, in their own way, at the personalities behind their respective public personas.”
The crown is expected to receive anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000. The “King of New York” photo session was for Rap Pages magazine, and was led by photographer Barron Claiborne. Claiborne’s concept was to portray the rapper 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.
“After 23 years in my possession, I’m very excited to share this iconic piece of Hip Hop history with the public,” Claiborne said in a statement. “With the tragic events that unfolded just days after the photoshoot, this image of a crowned Notorious B.I.G. 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 of all time.”
Along with the crown, the auction will 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 auction will take place on September 15.
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