The first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house



Featuring over 120 lots, the auction is comprised 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, important 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.


Sotheby’s announced an auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop on 15 September in New York.

The 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.

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.

“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,” commented CASSANDRA HATTON, VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR SPECIALIST IN SOTHEBY’S BOOKS & MANUSCRIPTS DEPARTMENT.

NOTORIOUS B.I.G.’S ‘KING OF NEW YORK’ CROWN and Archive of High School Love Letters Handwritten by Teenage Tupac Shakur; photos @sotheby’s new york

The auction is headlined by the Crown Worn & Signed by Notorious B.I.G. From the Iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ Photograph The Rapper’s Last Recorded Photoshoot (Estimate $200/300,000) and an Archive of High School Love Letters Handwritten by Teenage Tupac Shakur Estimate $60/80,000.

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.

Another auction highlight is a deeply personal archive of 22 autographed love letters written by a 16- year-old Tupac Shakur to Kathy Loy, a high school sweetheart and fellow student at the Baltimore School for the Arts (estimate $60/80,000). 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”.

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