Sotheby’s Auctions Off Notorious B.I.G.’s Crown And More Iconic Hip-Hop Memorabilia

The Notorious B.I.G.’s crown and photograph by Barron Claiborne at Sotheby’s. (Source: Instagram)

Sotheby’s, the world’s oldest and largest internationally recognized firm of fine art auctioneers, recently sold over $2 million worth of iconic items celebrating hip-hop’s five decades of cultural impact. The auction was organized by Monica Lynch, the former president of Tommy Boy Records.

The majority of items were consigned directly by artists or their estates and included: Notorious B.I.G./Barron Claiborne Crown + Photograph, DJ Ross One’s “Wall of Boom” (featuring a stack of 32 rare and vintage, and in some cases still functioning, 1980s boomboxes), the Tommy Boy DJ Headquarters Original Neon Sign, plus a lot of 22 love letters written by a high school-aged Tupac Shakur.

A portion of Sotheby’s proceeds from the auction benefitted the Queens Public Library Foundation to support their hip-hop programs and Building Beats, a non-profit community organization focused on DJing and music production programs.

Impressive to note here is that the artifacts, in many cases, sold well over their expected auction price. Biggie’s‘s crown — worn in a 1997 “King of New York” photoshoot with photographer Barron Claiborne — was sold for $595,000, which is 100% more than the estimated $300,000 auction price. Factor in the fact that Claiborne originally purchased the crown for six dollars; that’s a mind-blowing six million percent increase in worth.

The original neon sign at Tommy Boy’s headquarters exceeded nearly 200% of its expected auction value. However, the most staggering figure is that an original, sealed 12″ copy of Rammellzee vs. K-Rob “Beat Bop” (featuring artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat) exceeded pre-auction expectations by three-thousand percent. At $126,000, it has been declared, by Sotheby’s as “the most expensive hip-hop vinyl record sold at auction.”

There is no word as to when Sotheby’s will schedule another hip-hop auction. However, an unexpectedly lucrative marketplace exists for these items, of which many are likely available for auction.

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