Hip Hop
Live Auction: 15 September 2020 • 6:00 PM EDT • New York

Hip Hop 15 September 2020 • 6:00 PM EDT • New York

S otheby’s is honored to announce an auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop on 15 September in New York. The first-ever dedicated Hip Hop auction to be presented at a major international auction house, the sale reflects on the 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. Featuring over 120 lots, the auction is 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. The majority of items on offer in the sale have been consigned directly by artists or their estates and the full contents of the auction will be announced at a later date.

The auction was curated and organized by VP, Senior Specialist Cassandra Hatton 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.

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.

Select Highlights
The Crown
[THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.] BARRON CLAIBORNE. The crown worn by Biggie when photographed as the King of New York, 1997.

One of the most iconic artifacts in the history of hip hop, worn by one of the greatest hip hop stars of all time, for one of the most famous hip hop portraits ever taken.
Tupac Shakur
TUPAC SHAKUR | An archive of 22 love letters from Shakur to a high school sweetheart, 1987-88
Estimate: 60,000 – 80,000 USD
"Forever Yours, Tupac"
TUPAC SHAKUR. An archive of 22 love letters from Shakur to a high school sweetheart, 1987-88.

An intimate, early archive of teenage love letters, written by one of the greatest and most talented rappers of all time.
Estimate: 70,000 – 100,000 USD
King of the Beat
This imposing installation piece, created by DJ Ross One, consists of 32 vintage boomboxes from the early 1980s-early 1990s, displayed together on a custom built shelf and wired to function as a singular sound system. The work includes some of the rarest and most recognizable vintage boomboxes of all time.

Start of a Movement: Hip Hop in the 1970s & 1980s

Read: The Meteoric Rise of Hip HopGreg Tate explains how a movement born in America’s most impoverished communities has become a powerhouse of cultural influence.
Hip Hop in the 1990s

FROM LEFT: CHI MODU. EAZY E. $1,000–1,500. CHI MODU. TUPAC SHAKUR, ATLANTA, GA, 1994. $1,000–1,500. ©CHI MODU.

The New Guard: Hip Hop in the 21st Century

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