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The Notorious B.I.G’s iconic plastic crown sells for almost £500,000 at Sotheby’s auction

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The Notorious B.I.G’s iconic plastic crown was sold for almost half a million pounds at a Sotheby’s hip-hop memorabilia auction in New York yesterday (September 15).

The crown was worn and signed by Biggie, real name Christopher George Latore Wallace, in a 1997 photoshoot with Barron Claiborne, just three days before the rapper was shot and killed in Los Angeles.

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Sotheby’s anticipated that the crown would sell for between £155,000 ($200,000 US) and £232,000 ($300,000 US), but its final bidding price of £461,005 ($594,750 US) exceeded expectations. As pointed out by the New York Post, its original retail price was only £4.65 ($6 US).

“This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s,” photographer Claiborne told the publication.

“Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”

The plastic crown wasn’t the only high-profile piece of hip-hop memorabilia at the auction. Other items on sale included 22 letters written by Tupac Shakur to his high school sweetheart, Slick Rick’s diamond eyepatch, Salt-N-Pepa’s jackets from the ‘Push It’ music video and more.

The public sale was revealed last month and was to be the first hip-hop memorabilia auction hosted by Sotheby’s.

At the time of the auction’s announcement, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, Cassandra Hatton, acknowledged the influence hip-hop has had on art, music and culture.

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“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,” she said.

“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 portion of the proceeds raised from the auction will go to Queens Public Library Hip Hop programs and Building Beats, a non-profit community organisation.

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Date: 16 September 2020
Author: Greta Brereton

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