Notorious B.I.G.'s "King of New York" Crown Fetches Nearly $600k in Auction

Dylan Henson music /
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12: The crown worn by Notorious B.I.G. when photographed by Barron Claiborne as the King of New York is displayed during a preview at Sotheby's for their Inaugural HIP HOP Auction on September 12, 2020 in New York City. A celebration of the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop, the sale reflects on the impact the movement has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through the "Golden Age" of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

As the most coveted relic in Sotheby's inaugural auction of legendary hip-hop memorabilia, The Notorious B.I.G.'s plastic crown worn during a 1997 cover shoot for Rap Pages magazine sold for $594,750.

Photographed by Barron Claiborne, the iconic snapshot is called "King of New York" and was taken just days before Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at 24 years old. 

Via Sotheby's

Both Biggie and Claiborne signed the prop, which originally cost $6 and was expected to auction for around $300k. Sotheby's senior specialist Cassandra Hatton called the crown "one of the most recognizable symbols of hip-hop, 20th-century culture."

"Everybody around the world recognizes this crown," she added. "You see it on T-shirts. You see it on coffee cups and prayer candles. It’s huge."

Before being auctioned, the crown was on display at Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, an exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York.  

Additional items sold include Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" jackets crafted by Dapper Dan ($23,940); Slick Rick's diamond eye patch ($25,200); Fab 5 Freddy's gold and diamond MTV ring ($35,280); Questlove's 5-piece drum kit ($30,240); and over 20 hidden letters written by Tupac to his high school sweetheart ($75,600).

Via Sotheby's
Via Sotheby's
Via Sotheby's

A handful of more contemporary pieces were offered as well, like a Supreme x Louis Vuitton hoodie ($6,048) and a skateboard by the two brands with a trunk ($88,200). Plus, an unreleased prototype of Drake Air Jordan 4 sneakers.