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Sotheby’s Historic First Auction Dedicated to HIP HOP Achieves $2 Million

Auction is 91% Sold by Lot

The Crown Worn & Signed by Notorious B.I.G.
From the Iconic 1997 ‘King of New York’ Photograph
The Rapper's Last Recorded Photoshoot
Sold for $600,000
An Archive of High School Love Letters
Handwritten by Teenage Tupac Shakur
Achieves $75,600
Rammellzee vs. K-Rob “Beat Bop” Original, Sealed 12-Inch Single with Original Artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Soars to More Than 50x Its Estimate, Achieving $126,000
*Most Expensive Hip Hop Vinyl Record Sold at Auction*
DJ Ross One’s Wall of Boom, An Installation Featuring 32 Functioning Vintage Boom Boxes,
Brings $113,400

Artist Auction Records For:
Janette Beckman | Chi Modu | Schoolly D | Tim Conlon |
Shirt King Phade | Ed Piskor | Buddy Esquire | LA2/LAROC | Derek Ridgers | Mpozi Tolbert | John Nordell |
Egyptian Lover | Phil Knott

A Portion of Sotheby’s Proceeds Benefitting the Queens Public Library Hip Hop Programs and Building Beats, A Non-Profit Community Organization Focused on DJ & Music Programs

NEW YORK, 16 September 2020 – Tonight in New York, Sotheby’s inaugural auction dedicated to Hip Hop achieved $2 million, surpassing its high estimate with an exceptional 91% of all lots sold. The auction received remarkable interest with more than 400 registered bidders, more than 25% of whom were new to Sotheby’s, from 19 countries around the world, illustrating the widespread global reach of Hip Hop as a one of the world’s most impactful and beloved cultural movements.

Iconic pieces of Hip Hop history set new benchmarks and achieved new records throughout the sale, including Notorious B.I.G.’s worn and signed crown from the 1997 “K.O.N.Y.” photoshoot for Rap Pages magazine; Fab 5 Freddy’s custom MTV ring; a complete run of The Source magazine, the definitive guide to Hip Hop; Salt-N-Pepa’s famous “Push It” jackets; an archive of love letters written by teenage Tupac Shakur’s; a pair of custom Air Force 1 by Ms. Opal Lee, Niko Brim, and Sierato in honor of Juneteenth Holiday Campaign; Dr. Dre’s shiny World Class Wreckin’ Cru “Wrapped in Romance” suit; a cover study for De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising album; and much more.

More than 10 new artist auction records were also achieved, with many artists appearing at auction for the first time, as the sale continued to break ground for Hip Hop artists spanning fine art, photography, illustration, sculpture, and more.

Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department commented: “We are thrilled with the results from tonight’s historic Hip Hop auction in New York, the birthplace of Hip Hop. Since the idea of this sale first began taking shape more than seven years ago, before coming together in earnest two years ago after I was introduced to Monica Lynch, it has been a labor of love to organize an auction of this magnitude and significance at Sotheby’s. Throughout the sale, we saw strong bidding from across age brackets and countries, with significant interest from leading cultural institutions in the U.S. Most importantly, we’re proud to have been able to showcase the works of so many talented artists, rappers, designers, and photographers, among others, many of whom consigned their work directly to the auction. To give back to the culture and share a portion of Sotheby’s proceeds to support two critical organizations in educating the next generation about Hip Hop and preserving its legacy is emblematic of the supportive community that defines Hip Hop.”

A celebration of the history and cultural impact Hip Hop has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present, the sale was comprised of unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications, and more. A majority of items on offer in the sale were consigned directly from Hip Hop’s most pivotal and well-known artists and figures.

A portion of Sotheby’s proceeds will benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation, to support their Hip Hop Programs, coordinated by “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, as well as Building Beats, a non-profit community organization that teaches tech, entrepreneurial and leadership skills to underserved youth through DJ and music programs.

The auction was organized in collaboration with Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records (1981-1998) who helped launch the careers of legends Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force, Queen Latifah, De La Soul, and Naughty by Nature, among many others.


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