NEW YORK — Sotheby’s auctioned off quite literally a crown jewel they sold the iconic piece worn by music legend Notorious B.I.G for over half a million dollars on Tuesday. 

What You Need To Know

  • A crown once worn by Notorious B.I.G sold for nearly $600,000 at a Sotheby's auction on Tuesday

  • The artist famously wore the headpiece when he was photographed by Barron Claiborne in 1997

  • The crown was priced at an estimated value of $200,000 - $300,000

  • The sale was part of Sotheby's Hip Hop auction

The crown, which was famously worn by the artist when he was photographed by Barron Claiborne in 1997 as the “King of New York,” was priced at an estimated value of $200,000 – $300,000, but ultimately sold for nearly $600,000.

The auction, which Sotheby’s billed as the “first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house,” also included numerous pieces from other influential artists. 

Some highlights from the 120-plus items were a multicolored diamond eyepatch that belonged to Slick Rick, nearly two dozen handwritten love letters from Tupac Shakur to a high school sweetheart, and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” jackets. 

The auction raised over $2 million, a portion of which will be donated to the Queens Public Library Foundation, as well as Building Beats, a non-profit that promotes education for underserved youths through DJ sets and music lessons. 

Ahead of the auction, Sotheby’s senior specialist Cassandra Hatton sat down for a virtual chat with fashion designer Dapper Dan, photographer Janette Beckman and jeweler Johnny Nelson to discuss the impact Hip Hop has had on American culture. 

“As Hip Hop began to develop, I had to take on different inspirations,” Dapper Dan, a fashion designer from Harlem, explained. “When the Hip Hop artists started developing their own message and their own style, I looked into those artists who were unique in that.”

Dan, whose real name is Daniel Day, cited Boogie Down Productions as one of his main sources of inspiration early in his career. 

The fashion designer also donated an experience item for Sotheby’s Hip Hop auction, which sold for over $11,000. The winner will join Dan on a behind-the-scenes tour of his Harlem atelier, complete with a custom-designed piece. 

In fact, many of the items auctioned were directly donated by artists themselves. Hatton said the goal of the event was to "celebrate the culture" of Hip Hop music. 

"And so we were happy to share their names and share the sources of where all of this material came from, because… it came directly from the artist," she said.