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Notorious B.I.G. crown and Tupac love letters up for auction

Written by on August 27, 2020

An iconic piece of hip-hop history is up for auction – the crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. in his last recorded photoshoot.

The “King of New York” picture, as it came to be known, has featured on magazine covers, mixtapes, T-shirts, murals and even in the villain’s headquarters in Netflix’s Luke Cage.

It’s part of a Sotheby’s auction celebrating the impact of hip-hop that also includes love letters written by Tupac Shakur at the age of 16.

Some of the money raised by the 120 items will go towards community projects in New York City.

Biggie wore this crown just three days before he was shot dead on 9 March 1997.

The rapper and the photographer Barron Claiborne signed it at the time, and Barron has kept it in his possession ever since.

“I’m very excited to share this iconic piece of hip-hop history with the public,” he says.

“The image transformed Biggie Smalls into an aristocratic or saint like figure, forever immortalised as not only the King of New York, but a king of hip-hop music and one of the greatest artists of all time.”

Sotheby’s expects the crown to fetch $200,000 to $300,000 (£150,500 to £225,900) .

It’s much loved now but Diddy, Biggie’s label boss who was with him at the shoot, was reportedly worried at the time it looked more Burger King than hip-hop king.


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