The iconic crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. in a 1997 photoshoot is one of the main items being put up for sale at the first Sotheby’s auction fully dedicated to hip-hop.

The crown was worn and signed by the rapper only three days before he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, and it is being placed up for sale by the photoshoot’s original photographer, Barron Claiborne. Sotheby’s is expecting it to sell for between $200-300,000 at the New York auction on Tuesday, September 15th.

An archive of 22 autographed love letters written by Tupac is also a key item in the auction. The letters are addressed to a high school sweetheart and were written when he was aged 15-17. They’re being put up for auction with an expected value of $60-80,000. 

A portion of the proceeds from the auction, which includes a number of other items, will go towards the Queens Public Library Hip Hop and Building Beats, a non-profit community organisation.

Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, said: “Since its birth in the Bronx in the 1970s, Hip Hop has become a global cultural force, whose massive influence continues to shape all realms of culture: music, fashion, design, art, film, social attitudes, language, and more.

“This sale is a celebration of the origins and early eras of that influence. We are pleased to announce the auction with two renowned and beloved icons whose lives and lyricism continue to resonate — Biggie and Tupac — with lots that offer an introspective look, in their own way, at the personalities behind their respective public personas.”

Late last year, it was revealed that a $3.5 million dollar grant had been approved to build the world’s first hip-hop museum in New York.