The Notorious B.I.G.'s Crown Sells for Nearly $600,000 at Auction

The plastic piece was a highlight of the Sotheby's hip-hop auction
The Notorious B.I.G.'s Crown Sells for Nearly $600,000 at Auction
Photo: Barron Claiborne
Last month, it was revealed that the Notorious B.I.G.'s crown from his iconic "King of New York" photoshoot would be hitting the auction block, and the plastic prop has now been sold for nearly double its estimated bid.

Headlining the first-ever Sotheby's auction dedicated to hip-hop, held last night (September 16) in New York, Biggie's crown was auctioned off for $594,750 USD (including fees and taxes) in spite of its original $6 price tag. That's roughly $782,000 CDN.

As previously reported, the crown was auctioned off by photographer Barron Claiborne, with the lot also including three prints of the iconic photograph, the 10th anniversary "King of New York" photograph, and the contact sheet from the shoot. The complete package was expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000 USD.

"I'm not sure that I even got paid for [the photoshoot]," Claiborne told the New York Post. "I was mostly shooting celebrities and reportage. I did this because I liked taking pictures of Biggie. The time before, I photographed him in a white suit — instead of the tracksuit that most rappers were wearing back in 1997."

For a magazine shoot, Claiborne sought to portray Biggie as the King of New York on his throne. The crown that was auctioned off was one of two different sized headpieces that were brought to the shoot and required the interior foam padding to be removed in order to have it fit Biggie's head.

Claiborne recalled that Diddy, then the owner of Bad Boy Records, objected to the concept, telling the Post, "He said it would make Biggie look like Burger King...But Biggie didn't listen. He wore it anyway. And nobody's ever told me that they look at the photo and think the crown is plastic."

The Notorious B.I.G. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. Other items in the auction included high school love letters from 2Pac, a drumkit from Questlove, a 1987 Beastie Boys concert poster, Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" video jackets and more.