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Crown Biggie Wore 3 Days Before His Death Is for Sale

Sotheby's sale also includes a teen Tupac's love letters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2020 12:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – Letters from a lovestruck 16-year-old Tupac Shakur will be auctioned off at Sotheby's first-ever sale devoted to hip-hop history. The 22 letters to Kathy Loy, one of the rapper's classmates at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the 1980s, are expected to fetch up to $80,000, the Guardian reports. The sale will also feature a plastic crown that became a major part of hip-hop history. It was worn by the Notorious BIG in his "King of New York" photoshoot three days before he was shot dead on March 9, 1997. At the time, label boss Diddy worried "it looked more Burger King than hip-hop king," but it is now expected to fetch up to $300,000 at the Sept. 15 auction, reports the BBC. Sotheby's says some of the money raised will go toward community projects in New York City.

Rapper and photographer Barron Claiborne, who kept the crown after the photoshoot, says the "image transformed Biggie Smalls into an aristocratic or saint like figure, forever immortalized as not only the King of New York, but a king of hip-hop music and one of the greatest artists of all time." In Tupac's love letters from 1987 and 1988, he discusses his friendship with fellow student Jada Pinkett—now Jada Pinkett-Smith—and expressed doubts about pursuing a career in rap. "My old manager came over and said she doesn't want me to retire from rap but I think I am because I can't handle too much rejection and I don't have the time," he wrote. He was dead less than 10 years later, slain in a Sept. 13, 1996, drive-by shooting. The Notorious BIG was initially considered a suspect. (Read more hip-hop stories.)

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