The prestigious auction house Sotheby’s held its first ever sale of hip-hop memorabilia tonight in New York, featuring items such as a one-of-a-kind Def Jam jacket and a DJ triptych by Fab 5 Freddy. One noteworthy object on sale was a plastic crown once worn by the Notorious B.I.G. Originally purchased for $6 at a novelty store, the crown fetched $594,750 at auction.
In an interview with the New York Post, Brooklyn-based photographer Barron Claiborne recalls picking up the crown at a store on Broadway called Gordon’s for a shoot featured on the cover of Rap Pages magazine in 1997, just three days before Biggie’s death. He recalls, “I’m not sure that I even got paid for it. I was mostly shooting celebrities and reportage. I did this because I liked taking pictures of Biggie.”
According to Claiborne, the photo almost didn’t happen due to objections from Sean “Puffy” Combs, who owned Biggie’s label Bad Boy Records. “He said it would make Biggie look like Burger King,” Claiborne said. “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… His power cancels out the fact that it is a novelty crown.”