AT AUCTION: HIP HOP HIERLOOMS

by Isabelle White on October 25, 2020

Last month Sotherby's auction house made history by hosting their first ever hip-hop auction. The auction, which included several pieces of iconic jewellery and accessories from hip-hops history closed with a total of over $2 million in sales. 

The auction reflected the impact hip-hop has not only had on music but also wider culture with Biggies iconic plastic crown from his K.O.N.Y portrait going for over half a million dollars! 

We round up our favourite jewels and accessories from the auction and what they sold for. 

Biggie's K.O.N.Y. Crown

The assassination of Biggie Smalls remains one of the most significant events in the history of hip-hop, and his "K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)" portrait session, just three days prior, provided one of the most famous images of the late rapper — one that would immortalize him as the "King of New York." The crown he wore has remained in the possession of Barron Claiborne since the legendary 1997 photoshoot took place. The interior of the crown bears the inscription “Crown from Biggie KONY Shot NYC 3-6-97” and is signed by both Biggie and Claiborne.

Estimates Price: $200,000-3,000,000

Sold: $594,750

 

Slick Rick's diamond eyepatch

Slick Rick pioneered the convergence of luxury and street style — nothing embodies his incredible endurance, flare, and extravagance like his custom diamond eyepatch. The deeply personal piece was made by the "King of Bling" Jacob the Jeweler, according to the custom design of Slick Rick's wife.

Estimated Price: $20,000-$25,000

Sold$25,200

 

Fab 5 Freddy’s MTV Ring

When the groundbreaking music video show, Yo! MTV Raps! first aired in 1988, hip-hop jewelry was mostly thick gold rope necklaces, crucifixes, and heavy medallions. The show's host, Fab 5 Freddy, wanted to stand out from the crowd, and he teamed up with Tito the Jeweler — aka "Manny", the first hip-hop jeweler — to realize his vision. The unique piece has since become one of the most exemplary pieces of jewelry from that era.

Estimated Price: $20,000-30,000

Sold: $35,280

 

"Ladies First" four-finger ring by Johnny Nelson

Fast forward to today, and Johnny Nelson is one of the most exciting jewelers in hip-hop. His one-of-a-kind ring, custom-designed for this sale, depicts some of the greatest female MCs of all time: Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lady of Rage, and Roxanne Shanté.

Estimated Price: $22,000 - 24,000

Sold: Unknown

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