NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time ever, hip-hop took center stage at the Sotheby’s Auction House Tuesday night.
The auction of more than 120 items brought in $2 million.
Sotheby’s might not be the first place you would expect to see memorabilia from The Notorious B.I.G., Slick Rick or the Wu-Tang Clan, but it became the first major international auction house to dedicate an entire collection to hip-hop.
One of the most prized possessions was the crown that Biggie Smalls wore on the famous 1997 King of New York photoshoot. It sold for nearly $600,000 — double what was anticipated.
“For Sotheby’s and the art market, it’s extremely significant,” senior specialist Cassanda Hatton said.
Hatton has been working on the collection for more than two years.
“I just said, ‘I’m doing this, this is important.’ And nobody stopped me,” she said.
The auction reflects on hip-hop’s fashion, design, art and pop culture influence from the late 1970s to mid-1990s and present day. Items for sale ranged from contemporary art to photography and jewelry.
Also included was Salt N Peppa’s “Push It” jacket, 22 love letters written by Tupac Shakur to his high school sweetheart and Fab Five Freddy’s gold and diamond MTV ring.
“For us, this was about celebrating the culture, celebrating the people who created the culture,” said Hatton. “So we were happy to share their names and share the sources of where all this material came from because… it came directly from the artist.”
Biggie was killed just three days after the iconic crown photoshoot. It was the last ever picture taken of him, which is why the crown went so high.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the Queens Public Library’s hip-hop programs and community nonprofit Building Beats.
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