Among the 120 lots sold at a first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction by a major international auction house were Tupac Shakur’s teenage love letters and the crown worn by Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G.
The Sotheby’s auction achieved a total of $2 million, as items that are considered part of Hip Hop art and culture from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present.
One of the lots featured the crown worn by Notorious B.I.G. during the rapper’s last recorded photoshoot in 1997 before he was killed in Los Angeles three days later. The photographer who captured Notorious’ image, Barron Claiborne, owned the crown before it was auctioned off for $594,670 (£461,243).
Another bidders’ treasure, Tupac Shakur’s love letters to his high-school sweetheart, fetched $75,600 (£58,629). The letters were written by 16-year-old Tupac, who went to become rapper and songwriter better known as 2Pac, and were addressed to a fellow student Kathy Loy.
“A total of 42 pages on 24 sheets of paper and one greeting card, the letters are signed by Shakur with a variety of terms of endearment: “Love, Tupac”, “4 Eternity, Tupac”, “With Passion, Tupac”, “Forever Yours, Tupac” and “With All My Heart, Tupac”,” said Sotheby’s.
The auction celebrated Hip Hop culture that since the 1970s “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,” as described by a Sotheby’s specialist.
“This sale is a celebration of the origins and early eras of that influence. We are pleased to announce the auction with two renowned and beloved icons whose lives and lyricism continue to resonate — Biggie and Tupac — with lots that offer an introspective look, in their own way, at the personalities behind their respective public personas,” Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s books & manuscripts department said.
Other lots included unique artifacts, contemporary art, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications, and more. A portion of the profits went to the Queens Public Library Foundation, to support their Hip Hop Programs.