It started out as a plastic prop from a party store, but the golden crown that rapper Notorious B.I.G. wore during the last photoshoot before his death, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars at an auction devoted to hip-hop culture. The crown with plastic jewels worn by Notorious B.I.G. was sold for $594,750 at Sotheby's in New York on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.
The crown, signed by the rapper days before his death in the year 1997, broke auction estimates that had priced it between $200,000 and $300,000 in the first place.
Other lots included a five-piece drum kit, once used by The Roots' Questlove, and one of the diamond eye patches of rapper Slick Rick, which sold for $30,240 and $25,200 respectively. A pair of "Push It" jackets worn in a 2015 Super Bowl ad by the hip hop duo Salt-N-Pepa went up for just under $24,000. And there were many more things that were sold during the auction.
On August 29, 2020, Notorious B.I.G’s official Instagram handle shared pictures of the crown, his signature on it and the portrait of him donning it. Along with the post, it was also revealed that on September 15th in # NYC Sotheby's will be presenting a live auction celebrating Hip Hop's history and cultural impact, headlined by one of the most iconic symbols of Hip Hop's heyday: The Crown. Take a look at the post below.
Photographer Barron Claiborne, who had kept the item after portraying the rapper as the "King of New York" in a photoshoot for Rap Pages magazine, placed up the crown for sale once worn by Infamous B.I.G. Claiborne had obtained two crowns and found that both were too small for Biggie's head, but he could use one by removing the foam cushioning.
Sean "Diddy" Combs, who owned Biggie's Bad Boy Records label, also took part in the 1997 film. According to Sotheby's, at the time, Combs expressed fear that the images would make the rapper look like the "Burger King."
The shoot nevertheless went ahead, and the resulting pictures became some of the most recognisable and lasting portraits of the hip hop. Claiborne described the crown as an "iconic piece of hip hop history," in a press statement released by Sotheby's. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to charities including the Queens Public Library Foundation of New York which manages community hip hop programmes.
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