The novelty accessory was worn by the late hip-hop legend in his iconic photo shoot with Barron Claiborne, just three days before he was shot and killed in Los Angeles in 1997.
The crown went under the hammer at Sotheby’s hip-hop memorabilia auction in New York on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.
And the auction house had expected the item to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.
The headpiece has a retail price of just $6.
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All hail the King of New York! Tonight during our inaugural Hip Hop auction, 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 sold for $600,000. 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. Achieving an overall total of $2 million, the auction was a celebration of the history and cultural 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. A majority of items included in the sale were consigned directly from Hip Hop’s most pivotal and well-known artists and figures, several of who will be sharing their proceeds with a variety of charities. A portion of Sotheby’s own 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 #HipHopxSothebys #QPLHipHop
Claiborne told the New York Post: “This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s.
“Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”
Elsewhere, 22 letters written by the late Tupac Shakur to his high school sweetheart, Slick Rick’s diamond-encrusted eye patch and Salt-N-Pepa‘s jackets worn in their “Push It” music video also went under the hammer.
Some of the money raised will go to Queens Public Library Hip Hop programs and nonprofit Building Beats.
Cassandra Hatton, vice president and senior specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, had said of the sale in honor of 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.
“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.”