Auctions don’t come more Notorious than this

Barron Claiborne, 'Notorious B.I.G. as the K.O.N.Y (King of New York)'

Barron Claiborne, 'Notorious B.I.G. as the K.O.N.Y (King of New York)'

 

Sotheby’s, reported last month, that it has sold $2.5 billion of art and collectibles so far this year, including the single-lot sale of a pair of Michael Jordan’s game-worn Nike sneakers that sold for $560,000, more than three times their pre-sale estimate.

Not content with taking on, and dominating, the sneaker category, the auction house has now announced it will be celebrating the history and cultural impact of hip hop with its first-ever hip-hop auction this month.

So, clear your diaries for 15 September if you want to grab a piece of hip-hop royalty – the actual crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G.

This will be one of more than 120 lots in the New York sale showcasing 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 to the present.

As well as the crown featured in Notorious B.I.G.’s last recorded photoshoot that produced the iconic 1997 'King of New York' photograph, the sale will also include love letters written by a teenage Tupac Shakur, plus contemporary art, vintage and modern fashion, jewellery and rare ephemera including flyers and posters.

The majority of items on offer have been consigned directly by artists or their estates and the full contents of the auction will be announced at a later date. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation, to support its hip-hop programmes, coordinated by “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, as well as Building Beats, a non-profit community organisation that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programmes.

Cassandra Hatton, Vice President and Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department, said: “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.”

A dedicated exhibition will be able to view by appointment in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries from 11 – 15 September and online via the auction house’s new immersive digital gallery experience.

 

The crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. from the iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ photograph

The crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. from the iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ photograph. Estimate: $200/300,000

An archive of high school love letters handwritten by teenage Tupac Shakur. Estimate: $60/80,000

An archive of high school love letters handwritten by teenage Tupac Shakur. Estimate: $60/80,000

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