Biggie Smalls' crown worth £200k and Tupac's love letters to go under the hammer at Sotheby's first hip hop auction

Biggie Small's iconic crown and love letters sent from Tupac will go on sale at a Sotheby's first-ever hip-hop auction.

The 22 letters written by Tupac to his high school sweetheart are expected to bring in up to a huge £59,916 ($80,000) at the sale along with the crown estimated to be worth $300,000 (£232,594).


The golden coloured crown was actually just a plastic prop used for the purpose of his 1997 King of New York shoot – but could now fetch up to £234,466 ($300,000) in the auction by Sotheby.

The crown was also signed by the Brooklyn rapper, real named Christopher Wallace, who was killed just three days after the photoshoot at the age of 24 in 1997.

The crown was put on offer by the photographer, Barron Claiborne who had procession of it since the photoshoot.

Claiborne was hired for the photoshoot and developed the concept of portraying B.I.G. as the king of New York on his throne.

It is said that the rapper’s close friend and label head, Diddy, who was present during the shoot was not happy with the concept as he believed it made the Biggie look like the Burger King.

Biggie however, was pleased with it, going on to create one of the most iconic images of hip-hop.

“With the tragic events that unfolded just days after the photoshoot, this image of a crowned Notorious B.I.G. became much more than a portrait – the image transformed Biggie Smalls into an aristocratic or saint like figure, forever immortalized as not only the King of New York, but a king of Hip Hop music and one of the greatest artists of all time," said Claiborne.

Also, on offer are Tupac Shakur’s love letters he wrote as a 16-year-old boy to his high school sweetheart, Kathy Loy while they both attended the Baltimore School for the Arts.

In the letter, which could have been written from March 1987 to April 1998, Tupac shows glimpses of his vulnerable he professes his love for Loy when he was in the 10th grade.

In one of the letters he writes: “ I love you now more than ever, want you now more than before, No one compares to you, the one that I adore…" showing signs of the poetic talent which earned him praise throughout his career.

His close bond with childhood friend Jada Pinkett Smith is also featured in the letter as he tells Loy: “Jada told me she can see how much I love you.”

He also revealed insecurities to Loy by saying: “My old manager came over and said she doesn't want me to retire from rap, but I think I am because I can't handle too much rejection and I don't have the time”.

The 22 letters are expected to bring in up to £59,916 ($80,000).

Sotheby said: “"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.”

A portion of the proceeds is expected to benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation in support of their hip-hop programs.

Biggie and Tupac are two of the most iconic names in hip-hop, coming up on the scene around the same time.

They both sought to highlight life on the streets, police brutality and the impact of racial discrimination through their work.

Tupac entered the music scene before Biggie with his debut album 2Pacalypse in 1991.

He went on to release four more albums, including All Eyez On Me, which has appeared on several critic’s greatest albums list.

Biggie on the other hand, released his debut album, Ready to Die in 1994. The album was a commercial hit and was credited for resurrecting the east coast hip hop scene in a genre dominated by the west coast artists.

Although the two rappers started off as friends, they became involved in one of music’s biggest rivalries with the warring east and west coast scenes.

The rivalry escalated when Tupac believed that Biggie had a hand in his attempted murder in 1994.

It also sparked a fierce dispute between Diddy’s Bad Boy Records and Suge Knight’s Death Row records.

After Biggie released the diss track aimed at Tupac Who Shot Ya?, the former replied with one of his own called Hit ‘Em Up where he claimed to have slept with Biggie’s wife at the time, R&B star, Faith Evans.

The heated rivalry has been blamed for resulting in their deaths with Tupac murdered on September 7, 1996 and Biggie six months after.

After the death of Tupac, Biggie had attempted to put an end to the rivalry between the east and west.

In an interview with Jim Bean, he said: “We two individual people, we waged a coastal beef…one man against one man made a whole West Coast hate a whole East Coast. And vice versa. And that really bugged me out.

“So what I'm trying to do now, I've got to be the one to try to flip it. And take my power and flip it, like, yo, because Pac can't be the one to try to squash it because he's gone.”

Till this day, their murders have remained a mystery as it has never been solved.

Their legacy continues to resonate to this day as they have gone on to inspire a generation of hip-hop stars years after their deaths.

Their death continues to spark debate among conspiracy theorists with some claiming they are still alive and may have faked their own death.


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