Sotheby’s mounts auction devoted to hip-hop Sept. 15

auction devoted to hip-hop

Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie/Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G.) as photographed during the 1997 ‘K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)’ portrait session. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

NEW YORK – Sotheby’s will conduct an online auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of hip-hop on Sept. 15. The s first-ever dedicated hip-hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house, the sale reflects on the impact hip-hop 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.

Leading the auction is the crown worn by Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie/Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G.) during the 1997 “K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)” portrait session, the rapper’s last recorded photoshoot before he was killed in Los Angeles three days later. The crown, which was recently showcased in the groundbreaking book and exhibition Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop by Vikki Tobak, is on offer by the photographer Barron Claiborne, whose possession it has remained since the photoshoot. Included in the lot are three specially sized (36 x 40″) prints – all 1/1 printed and signed by Claiborne – of the iconic K.O.N.Y photograph, the 10th anniversary K.O.N.Y. photograph, and the contact sheet (estimate $200,000-$300,000). The interior of the crown bears the inscription “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97” and is signed by both Biggie and Claiborne.

Featuring over 120 lots, the auction is composed of unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, publications and more. The majority of items on offer in the sale have been consigned directly by artists or their estates and the full contents of the auction will be announced at a later date.

A portion of Sotheby’s proceeds will benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation, to support their hip-hop programs, coordinated by “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, as well as Building Beats, a non-profit community organization that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programs.

The auction was organized in collaboration with Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records (1981-1998) who helped launch the careers of legends Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force, Queen Latifah, De La Soul and Naughty by Nature, among many others.

Cassandra Hatton, vice president and senior specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department commented: “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. 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.”

A dedicated exhibition for the Hip Hop auction will be on view by appointment in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries from Sept. 11–15. The exhibition will also be available to the public online via Sotheby’s new immersive digital gallery experience.