The items include Biggie’s signed crown from his 1997 “King of New York” photoshoot, which happened days before he was killed, and 22 love letters written by Tupac Shakur to his teenage sweetheart Kathy Loy.
Photographer Barron Claiborne, who shot the iconic image of Biggie, has had the crown that they both signed in his possession ever since. The inscription reads “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97.”
Claiborne explained what the piece means to him. “After 23 years in my possession, I’m very excited to share this iconic piece of hip-hop history with the public,” he said in a press statement.
View this post on Instagram
It was all a dream… Today we announced that on 15 September in #NYC we will present a live auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop, headlined by one of the most iconic symbols of Hip Hop’s heyday: the crown 👑 worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. from @barronclaiborne’s iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ photoshoot for Rap Pages Magazine. The photograph is one of the most recognizable images in Hip Hop culture and it has endured as the defining portrait of the artist more than 20 years since it was taken. The first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house, the sale reflects on the impact Hip Hop has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present. Featuring over 120 lots, the auction is comprised of unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications, and more with a majority of items consigned directly by artists or their estates. A portion of Sotheby's proceeds from the sale will benefit the Hip Hop programs at the @qplnyc, as well as @buildingbeats, a non-profit community organization that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programs. #hiphop #hiphopmusic #notoriousbig #biggiesmalls #barronclaiborne
Shakur’s handwritten letters showcase his poetic nature during his two-month-long romance with Loy.
The West Coast rapper’s heartfelt signatures, which include “Love, Tupac,” “4 Eternity, Tupac,” “With Passion, Tupac,” “Forever Yours, Tupac” and “With All My Heart, Tupac,” can be seen on the letters, which total 42 pages on 24 sheets of paper.
One of the letters even highlights his deep friendship with fellow student Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada told me she can see how much I love you,” he wrote.
Cassandra Hatton, vice president and senior specialist in Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department, explained why this inaugural hip-hop auction was important.
“This auction is a celebration of that story and the many ways in which hip-hop continues to resonate across all aspects of culture,” Hatton said in the statement.
The live auction will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Sotheby’s has estimated the purchase price for Biggie’s lot as $200,000 to $300,000 and $60,000 to $80,000 for Tupac’s items.
A portion of the proceeds will go to Building Beats, a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit that teaches entrepreneurship, leadership, and life skills to youth of color.