More than a decade ago the wife of the late-great MC known as Big Punisher, Liza Rios was forced to sell his iconic diamond encrusted Terror Squad chain as she and her family were going through hard times, and while that would’ve been a must-have for any Hip-Hop fan, collectors will now have a chance to own another iconic piece of jewelry from a bigger and more legendary Hip-Hop heavyweight (no disrespect to Pun).
Beginning on September 15, Sotheby’s will be auctioning holding it’s first ever “Hip Hop Auction” in which it will be putting up “unique artifacts” including Tupac’s love letters to his high school sweetheart Kathy Loy, and “rare ephemera” from Hip-Hop’s golden era of the 1990’s. But the true gem of the show will be the legendary gold crown that the Notorious B.I.G. wore for his iconic final photoshoot days before he was murdered in Los Angeles on March 9th, 1997. The crown itself was signed by Biggie and has been in the possession of the shoot’s photographer, Barron Claiborne, ever since that day. Now that Claiborne is ready to part with that iconic crown, someone out there is going to have a chance to own possibly the rarest piece of Hip-Hop history known to mankind.
Hired by Rap Pages Magazine to photograph Biggie for the cover, Claiborne’s concept was to portray the rapper as the King of New York on his throne but in a stripped-down manner – a departure from the popular over the top Hip Hop imagery of the late 90s. To style Biggie as royal, Claiborne brought two crowns of different sizes to the shoot; one was far too small, and in order to make the now-legendary crown fit, the interior foam cushioning had to be removed. Sean “Diddy” Combs, owner of Biggie’s label Bad Boy Records, accompanied the artist on the shoot, and was reportedly unhappy with the concept, worrying that it made him look like “the Burger King”. However, Biggie was open to the idea, resulting in one of the most recognizable images in Hip Hop culture and one of the most famous Hip Hop portraits ever taken.
As we stated before the crown is signed by both the OG King of New York and Barron Claiborne with “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97” inked on the inside with the piece estimated to be going for anywhere between $200,000-$300,000. Man, if we had Jay-Z paper we’d be all over that auction. Does Sotheby’s have a lifetime layaway plan available? Just asking.