NEW YORK, NY – Hip Hop memorabilia is a hot commodity — and Sotheby’s international auction house evidently wants in on the action. According to USA Today, Sotheby’s is holding its first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction, which will features items from The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Auction attendees will be able to bid on the crown worn and signed by Biggie during a 1997 photo shoot, which was held three days before he was murdered in Los Angeles. They’ll also get to fight for an archive of 22 autographed love letters written by ‘Pac to high school sweetheart Kathy Loy when he was 15, 16 and 17 years old.
Sotheby’s senior specialist Cassandra Hatton, who organized the sales, said, “The impact of Hip Hop is everywhere — sneakers, clothing, jewelry, art, music. I wanted to have a sale that really recognized how massive that impact really is.”
The crown is estimated to begin around $200,000 to $300,000, while the letters ares estimated to start between $60,000 to $80,000 for the letters. The prices are intentionally set low in an effort to attract first-time bidders and illustrate it’s not just for multi-millionaires.
Biggie’s crown has been in photographer Barron Claiborne’s possession since doing the Diddy-attended shoot for Rap Pages magazine.
“I’ve seen the crown,” Hatton said. “Everybody’s seen the crown. It’s so famous. It’s so iconic. When I was first thinking of doing this sale, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to track that crown down?’ I’ve sold all sorts of wild things. But this is a little different.”
As for ‘Pac’s letters, they were provided by his fellow Baltimore School for the Arts classmate Loy who dated ‘Pac for roughly two months.
“I’ll always be there for you,” Shakur wrote in one of them. He also said in a poem, “Everything is so beautiful/Since I fell in love.” Elsewhere in the 42-page spread, he mentions his friendship with Jada Pinkett Smith, writing, “Jada told me she can see how much I love you.”
Hatton was particularly struck by ‘Pac’s “sweet, poetic” tone throughout the letters.
“There are definitely moments that made me blush reading the letters — he is a 16-year-old boy after all,” she said. “But he is very respectful. He advocates for clear communication and boundaries and wants to define relationships.”
The auction takes place on September 15 and features over 120 Hip Hop-related lots. The items can be viewed in person with a reservation at Sotheby’s in New York City and online via its digital gallery.