A golden plastic crown once worn by American rapper, Notorious B.I.G, has sold for R9.7 million on auction.
Prominent auction house, Sotheby's, held their first ever hip-hop memorabilia auction in New York. The plastic crown was worn by the rapper for a photoshoot titled "King of New York" in 1997.
The crown, signed by the rapper three days before his death, smashed auction estimates that had initially valued it between R3.2 million and R4.9 million. It eventually sold for R9.7 million. Yes, a plastic crown sold for almost R10 million!
Notorious B.I.G, also known as Biggie Smalls, was killed in Los Angeles during a feud between rappers from the east and west coasts of America. To this day, the crime has not been solved.
The crown was bought at a party shop for the shoot by photographer Barron Claiborne. The New York rapper signed the crown on the day of the photoshoot and gave it to Claiborne who then added his signature to the crown as well.
When Sotheby's announced that they will be auctioning off hip-hop memorabilia, the photographer decided to put it up for auction. It turned out to be quite the payday for the Brooklyn-based photographer.
Clairborne must be over the moon because it was reported that the royally inspired shot of the rapper – designed to illustrate yet another one of his nicknames: King of New York – almost didn't happen.
At the time, Biggie recorded for Bad Boy Records, the label owned by Sean "Puffy" Combs. Combs was present at the shoot that day and didn't like the look of the plastic crown that cost only $6 back then.
"He said it would make Biggie look like Burger King," recalled Claiborne. "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."
Other items that were sold at the same auction include a collection of love letters written by Tupac Shakur, a teenager at the time, to his high school crush. It sold for R1.2 million.
Watch the CBS New York video below to see how the auction unfolded.
Image credits: CNN and Tanzania Global News