August 28, 2020

Rare Biggie and Tupac Artifacts Will Headline the First Ever Hip-Hop Auction

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Renowned auction company, Sotheby's revealed that it will headline its first-ever hip hop-centric live auction with rare Notorious B.I.G and Tupac artifacts.

There are only a few monumental photos and artifacts that light up the corridor of rap history. Among these photos, it is not surprising to find pictures of legendary hip-hop icons like Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

In 1997, the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. who was affectionately referred to as Biggie appeared in a certain series of photos that would go on to be an important part of history for many decades after his death.

Notorious B.I.G. attends the 1995 Billboard Music Awards in New York on December 6, 1995. | Photo: Getty Images


Biggie struck a regal pose for his "King of New York" photoshoot for Rap Pages magazine. The rapper wore a crown placed in a semi-crooked way on his head, depicting that he truly was a king.

Recently, Sotheby's revealed on their official Instagram account that they would be hosting the first-ever live auction in celebration of hip-hop and the revered memorabilia that traveled through its history. They wrote:

"Today, we announced that on 15 September in #NYC, we will present a live auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop."


The caption continued revealing that the auction would be headlined by one of the genre's most recognized and respected symbols, the crown that Biggie wore in his "King of New York" photoshoot.

Sotheby's announcement acknowledged that the photo had endured for more than 20 years after it was taken and transcended to become not only a symbol of the culture created by hip hop but also a defining portrait of the late rapper.

A portion of the proceeds would go to the Queens Public Library Foundation to lend a helping hand to step up the hip hop programs.


The legendary crown in question was the only known artifact from that photoshoot which was Biggie's last before he was killed in L.A three days later.

It was being put up for sale by photographer Barron Claiborne who took the photos of Biggie on that fateful day in 1997 and kept the crown for all those years.

The crown was signed on the inside by the self-acclaimed King of New York himself. The rapper's inscription, "Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97," was the dream-worthy icing on the cake.


Alongside the crown were the 36-by-40-inch prints of Claiborne and Biggie's "King of New York" masterpiece photographs, including the contact sheet which was said to have a value of $200,000 to $300,000.

The first of its kind hip hop sale would be presented for auction at a huge international auctioning house. 

It would show the lasting effect that the entire genre had in shaping history and music culture as it was known. There would be over 120 lots present from the mid-80s and mid-90s up until now.


Something important from rapper Tupac Shakur's memorabilia is also a highlight of the sale. A young Shakur wrote 22 heartwarming love letters to his then-high school sweetheart, Kathy Lot, a fellow student at the Baltimore School for the Arts.

The letters written by the 16-year-old Shakur were so globally coveted and precious that they were also said to be worth anywhere between $60,000 to $80,000. The entire collection consisted of 42 pages on 24 sheets of paper ranging from March 1987 to April 1988.


It included a greeting card as well as sweet sign-offs by the young Tupac. A portion of the proceeds would go to the Queens Public Library Foundation to lend a helping hand to step up the hip hop programs and educational amenities.

Tupac died on September 13, 1996, after being fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Six months after his death, Biggie was gunned down as well in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, in a drive-by shooting.

The tragic deaths of the iconic rappers burned their legacies in the books of history and immortalized them for eternity. They continue to live on.


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