Sotheby’s will soon launch an auction in New York to celebrate the cultural importance of hip hop. In the upcoming sale, the auction house will purvey over 120 lots featuring memorabilia, original artworks, jewelry and rare ephemera from hip hop’s “Golden Age” spanning the 1980s to the mid-1990s and beyond. A majority of the objects on offer have been consigned directly by the artists or their estates.
One of the most standout items on offer is the crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. during his 1997 ‘K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)’ portrait session — the legendary rapper’s last recorded photoshoot before he was murdered in Los Angeles three days later. The crown is on offer by the photographer Barron Claiborne who kept the item in his possession since the famed photoshoot. Accompanying the crown are three 36” by 40” prints featuring Claiborne’s iconic ‘K.O.N.Y’ photograph as well as the contact sheet which is valued upwards of $200-300,000 USD. The crown’s interior features the inscription “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97” and is signed by both Biggie and Claiborne.
Another auction highlight is a collection of twenty two autographed love letters written by a 16-year-old Tupac Shakur to Kathy Loy — the late rapper’s high school sweetheart and fellow 11th grade classmate at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The letters have a presale estimate of $60-80,000 USD. There are a total of 42 pages on 24 sheets of paper and one greeting card included in the collection. The letters also feature endearing sign-offs by Tupac including “Love, Tupac,” “4 Eternity, Tupac” and “With Passion, Tupac.” The letters range in date from late March 1987 to April 1988.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation to support their hip hop programs organized by the iconic rap video director “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels as well as Building Beats which is a nonprofit that provides tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through various music programs. Head to Sotheby’s website to learn more about the sale which is slated to launch on September 15.
In other news, a rare Banksy artwork entitled Banksquiat has appeared at auction for the first time on Artsy, in partnership with the up and coming East London auction house Tate Ward.