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The Notorious B.I.G.’s crown sells for $600,000 at hip hop auction

Biggie’s crown was signed and worn by the late rapper in his final photoshoot.

Biggie’s Crown Sothebys/Instagram

The crown that The Notorious B.I.G. wore in the final photoshoot before his death was officially sold yesterday (Sept. 15).

The accessory, which was up for sale at Sotheby’s first ever hip hop auction, was purchased for $6 and slated to sell between $200,000 and $300,000. Instead, a lucky buyer bought the photo for $600,000!

Biggie’s crown was signed and worn by the late rapper during the iconic “King of New York” photoshoot just three days before he died. The image, offered up by photographer Barron Clairborne, eventually became “one of the most recognizable images in Hip Hop culture” and “the defining portrait of the artist more than 20 years since it was taken,” per Sotheby’s Instagram post.

Last year, when explaining why he believed his Biggie photo has resonated with many for so long, Clairborne told GQ, Biggie dies, it’s very symbolic. This is a king. When people die early, people tend to mythologise them more because you never see them decay… you remember them the way they were. And if it’s a good memory, it remains a good memory because nothing can really change it.”

Sotheby’s inaugural hip hop 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.”

The collection included over 120 artifacts, a majority which were “consigned directly from Hip Hop’s most pivotal and well-known artists and figures.” Among the iconic pieces were Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” jackets and 22 of the love letters Tupac wrote to his high school sweetheart — Kathy Low —when he was just 16 years old. The latter, which was expected to go for $60,000 to $80,000, went for $75,600.

Overall, the sell-off raised $2 million. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Hip Hop programs at the Queens Public Library and Building Beats, a non-profit community organization that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programs.

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