Entertainment Music Huge price for B.I.G. crown as hip-hop auction breaks records

Huge price for B.I.G. crown as hip-hop auction breaks records

Sotheby's specialist Cassandra Hatton holds the plastic crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. Photo: AAP
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The plastic gold-coloured crown that US rapper Notorious B.I.G. wore on the last photo shoot before his death has fetched $US600,000 ($A821,700) at the first hip-hop auction held by an international house, Sotheby’s says.

The auction was a celebration of the history and cultural impact hip-hop has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through mid-1990s, and up to the present, Sotheby’s says.

After highlighting sneakers and handbags in recent years, Sotheby’s in New York dedicated its September auction to hip-hop culture, featuring about 120 lots that included boom boxes, photos of Snoop Dogg and Louis Vuitton luggage.

The auction house has said it was the first auction staged by an international house anywhere devoted entirely to hip-hop.

The signed crown, which was just a plastic prop from a party shop, worn by the rapper in the 1997 “King of New York” photograph was offered on sale for the first time, and was expected to fetch up to $US300,000 at the September 15 auction, Sotheby’s had said earlier.

The New York rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, was shot dead in Los Angeles at the age of 24 three days after the photo shoot as part of a feud between east and west coast rappers that also took the life of Tupac Shakur, 25, in 1996. Both crimes remain unsolved.

In the auction, a series of 22 love letters written by a 16-year-old Shakur to his high school sweetheart Kathy Loy between 1987 and 1988, were sold for $US75,600.