Press Release

Sotheby’s Unveils the Full Contents of Inaugural Auction Dedicated to HIP HOP

New York

Salt-N-Pepa’s Personal “Push It” Jackets
Worn in the 2015 Geico Super Bowl Commercial
Fab 5 Freddy’s Iconic Gold and Diamond ‘MTV’ Ring
Created for the Groundbreaking Yo! MTV Raps TV Show
The Wall of Boom by DJ Ross One,
An Art Installation Featuring 32 Vintage Boomboxes As a Working Sound System
The Only-Known Dual-Sided Logo Sculpture by Phase 2,
A Pioneering Hip Hop and Graffiti Artist

Unique Experiences with Hip Hop Legends
“Sweat The Technique” Lyric Writing Lesson with The God MC Rakim Allah
Virtual Wine Tasting with Big Daddy Kane
Private Atelier Experience with Dapper Dan of Harlem

Hip Hop Artifacts, Fine Art, Photography, Jewelry, Accessories & More

*Exhibition by Appointment 11 – 15 September*

Press Images Available on Request

NEW YORK, 4 September 2020 – Sotheby’s is thrilled to unveil the full contents of our inaugural Hip Hop auction, to be held live at 6PM EST on 15 September in New York. A celebration of the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop, the sale reflects on the impact the movement 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. Among the newly announced highlights in the sale include the iconic Salt-N-Pepa “Push It” jackets; visual artist, filmmaker and Hip Hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy’s ‘MTV’ ring made specially for Yo! MTV Raps; a private lyric writing lesson and studio session with the God MC Rakim Allah; a unique art installation by DJ Ross One entitled The Wall of Boom, which is comprised of 32 vintage boomboxes, and much more. The auction also features 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.

Much of the auction was consigned directly from Hip Hop’s most pivotal and well-known artists and figures. Among them are The RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan; Salt-N-Pepa; Fab 5 Freddy; Slick Rick; “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels of Video Music Box; Schoolly D; the Estate of Rammellzee; photographers Janette Beckman, Chi Modu, Sophie Bramly, Phil Knott, and the estate of Mpozi Tolbert; Prince Paul; Shirt King Phade; Charlie Ahearn; Egyptian Lover; MC Sha-Rock; MC J.B. and Baby D of J.J. Fad; Lonzo Williams of World Class Wreckin’ Cru; Almighty Kay Gee of the Cold Crush Brothers; “The Last Word” creator Andre LeRoy Davis; Ed Piskor of “Hip Hop Family Tree” fame; jewelry designer Johnny Nelson; contemporary artists Dave Muller, Tim Conlon, & LeRone Wilson. There are also notable works by contemporary artists Daniel Arsham, Richard Hambleton, LA2, Rashaad Newsome, and more. Several consignors will be sharing proceeds from the sale with a variety of charities.

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.

The full sale will be on view by appointment in Sotheby’s York avenue galleries from 11 – 15 September and our digital catalogue will be live later today at


Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” Jackets

Salt-N-Pepa's Personal 'Push It' Jackets

The Grammy Award-winning Hip Hop group Salt-N-Pepa are offering their personal Idol Maker leather jackets worn in the “Push It” Geico commercial, which aired during the 2015 Super Bowl (offered as a pair; estimate $12/18,000). The original “eight-ball” jackets, which the group wore in the “Push It” music video were so highly sought-after that they were stolen out of their dressing rooms years ago and had to be recreated by the original designer Christopher "Play" Martin of Kid 'N Play, who oversaw production at the Harlem studio of Dapper Dan. A portion of Salt's proceeds will benefit Truth Center Ministries, The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), and Life Camp, while a portion of Pepa's proceeds will benefit LIFEBeat and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Fab 5 Freddy’s ‘MTV’ Ring

An iconic and unique piece of Hip Hop jewelry featured in the sale is Fab 5 Freddy’s gold and diamond ‘MTV’ ring on offer from his personal collection (estimate $20/30,000). The visual artist, filmmaker and Hip Hop pioneer had the ring custom made in 1988 when he became the first host of the groundbreaking and wildly popular music video show Yo! MTV Raps. Stylistically aligned with the thick gold chains, heavy medallions and oversized logos that were popular at this time, the ring is a completely unique piece designed with the assistance of Tito the Jeweler (aka "Manny"), the first Hip Hop jeweler who was known for creating custom over-the-top pieces and would later become jeweler to many Hip Hop stars including Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Biggie and LL Cool J, among others.

Slick Rick’s Diamond Eyepatch

A signature of his unmistakable panache, the sale includes an eye patch from the collection of rap legend and style icon Slick Rick (estimate $20/25,000). The eyepatch was made by the "King of Bling" Jacob the Jeweler and custom designed by Slick-Rick's wife and manager Mandy who presented it to him as a gift for his 40th birthday.


The auction includes one-of-a-kind experiences with some of Hip Hop’s most esteemed and revered luminaries. Among them is a private lyric writing lesson and studio session with The God MC Rakim Allah (estimate $20/30,000). In the history of the Hip Hop, few artists have had as great an impact on the development and progression of the art of lyrical style as Rakim Allah, whose albums include the all-time classics Paid In Full, Follow the Leader and The 18th Letter. Universally referenced as one of the Masters of the Microphone and an influence and inspiration to his peers and followers alike, up to 3 participants (in person or virtually) will learn directly from the master in this highly personal session.

Sartorialists can bid on a chance to win a private atelier experience and couture design session with the legendary tailor of Harlem, Dapper Dan (estimate $10/15,000). The experience will include a private behind-the-scenes tour of his atelier in Harlem, New York, where you will get to work with Dapper Dan to design a custom piece of couture. This experience is best enjoyed in person, however accommodations can be made to enjoy the experience virtually. With his eponymous store on 125th Street and known for using exquisite leathers, furs, and other fine materials, Dapper Dan pioneered streetwear in the early 1980s, co-opting luxury branding to design original garments with high-end detail.

Bidders can also vie for a virtual wine tasting with Grammy-Award winning rapper and actor Big Daddy Kane, where together you will explore a selection of European and Californian red wines (estimate $20/30,000). The Hip Hop legend has garnered several gold albums in his long career, including Long Live The Kane, It's A Big Daddy Thing, Taste Of Chocolate, and Prince of Darkness, and was awarded a Grammy in 1990 for his work on “Back on the Block”, and nominated for another Grammy for his single “I Get the Job Done.”


Phase 2 Logo Sculpture

The auction features the only known dual-sided Logo Sculpture by the pioneering Hip Hop artist Phase 2, who was a pivotal early figure in the development and formulation of Hip Hop culture (estimate $40/60,000). The late artist’s oeuvre encompassed artwork, fashion, music, dance, and party flyers, and set the groundwork for a growing inner-city culture and became a worldwide phenomenon. A first-generation “writer” with roots in the NYC subway art movement, he was an innovator of what he called “wild lettering.” In 1972 he pioneered the “softie” (bubble) letter used in the earliest subway “pieces” and introduced arrows, curls, twists and other connections that became universal visual elements in the worldwide graffiti movement. He also introduced the B-boy world to battle (up) rocking and other styles and assembled one of the most important B-boy crews (The New York City Breakers), among many other notable, trend-setting achievements.

The present sculpture was commissioned for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame's 1999 touring exhibition entitled Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage. Instead of rendering one of his classic "softie"-style pieces, Phase 2 chose to construct this floating, dual-sided wooden "logo" relief. The artist began creating wood reliefs in the mid-1980s as extensions of his visual symbolics, and continued to create them into the 2000s.

The Wall of Boom

Created by world-renowned Roc Nation DJ and collector of all things Hip Hop, DJ Ross One, The Wall of Boom (estimate $70/100,000) is an art installation that features 32 vintage boomboxes from the early 1980s through the early 1990s, displayed together on a custom-built shelf, and wired together to function as a singular sound system. The installation consists of some of the rarest and most recognizable vintage boomboxes, including: Two Clairtone Super Jumbos, the same model radio used by Radio Raheem to blast Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" in Spike Lee's classic Do The Right Thing; Two highly coveted JVC M90s, which featured on LL Cool J's "Radio" album cover, Beastie Boys albums, and many others, and were immortalized in LL Cool J's song "I Can't Live Without My Radio” ("while my JVC vibrates the concrete"); a DiscoLite, the light-up boombox made famous in Madonna's "Hung Up" music video; two Sharp GF-777s, a popular boombox featured in many 80s NYC photos with 4 speakers lining the bottom; A Sanyo MX-920, the same radio Malcolm McLaren transformed into his iconic "Buffalo Gals" boombox; and a Toshiba BomBeat 40, one of the rarest and most highly prized boomboxes among collectors.


Custom Juneteenth Nike Air Force 1

The auction features a custom-designed pair of Nike Air Force 1, created in honor of the Juneteenth national holiday campaign. Estimated at $5/10,000, all proceeds will be donated to the non-profit organizations Hip Hop Public Health and Unity Unlimited, Inc.

Hip Hop artist and social justice advocate Niko Brim conceptualized the collectible kicks with inspiration drawn from the nation's foremost Juneteenth ambassador, 93-year old Ms. Opal Lee who has spent the last four decades campaigning to get congress to mark Juneteenth as a federally observed holiday. The unique pair, signed by Ms. Lee and designed by famed sneaker customization artist Sierato, features a red, white, and blue color scheme, incorporating a unifying theme of freedom for all while honoring the African-Americans' contributions, who "built the country."

The bold sneakers are adorned with song lyrics from Brim's single, "Hard to Believe" and symbolic imagery, which includes: the official Juneteenth flag, and the raised black power fist logo, a nod to timeless, silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos hoisted their clenched fists while accepting their medals. The number "2.23" is written across the toe box in memory of Ahmad Arbery, the unarmed African-American man pursued and fatally shot while jogging in Georgia.

Judith Leiber Custom Couture Handbags

The renowned American luxury brand Judith Leiber Couture has created two one of a kind crystal minaudières made exclusively for Sotheby’s to be offered in the Hip Hop auction. The Disco Boombox and the Brick Phone (Don’t call me. I’ll call you.) combine Hip Hop and 80’s nostalgia with the brand’s signature luxury details. Estimated at $7/10,000 each, the custom Italian made clutches come with a removable jeweled shoulder chain and feature over 9,000 dazzling handset crystals per bag that each took over 100 hours for artisans to hand place.

Style & Modern Luxury

The auction also includes several significant pieces of Hip Hop style, modern luxury, and unique fashion pieces. Among them are the “Shiny Red Suit” worn by Dr. Dre both on stage and on the cover of the World Class Wreckin' Cru's album Rapped in Romance, ca 1985-1986 (estimate $25/35,000); “Ladies First – Mt. Rushmore Reimagined,” a one of a kind, 14k gold four-finger ring made especially for this sale by jewelry designer Johnny Nelson, depicting Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lady Rage, and Roxanne Shanté (estimate $22/24,000); a series of Louis Vuitton x Supreme pieces, including a monogram malle courrier 90 trunk (red), 2017, (estimate $70/100,000), a boite skateboard trunk, with decks and trucks (estimate $60/80,000), and a box logo hoodie from 2017 (estimate $4/6,000); Shirt King Phade Gucci hoodie (estimate $3/4,000); Baby D of JJ Fad Tony Alamo jacket (estimate $2/3,000); and an unreleased Drake Air Jordan IV Retro Prototype/Sample, Size 11 (estimate $10/12,000).


The auction will feature a rare full run of IGTimes, the highly influential ‘80s publication that was the first devoted to street culture (estimate $4/6,000); vintage concert posters for Run-DMC ($1,000/1,5000), Grandmaster Flash (estimate $1,500/2,500), LL Cool J ($1,500/2,500), and many more; all physical issues of The Source magazine, from No. 1 (1988) to No. 275 (2019) (estimate $12/18,000); and several collections of early Hip Hop flyers dating to the 1970s (estimates range).


As previously announced, the sale will also include the crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. during the iconic 1997 ‘K.O.N.Y. (King of New York)’ portrait session taken by photographer Barron Claiborne, the rapper’s last recorded photoshoot (estimate $200/300,000); and an archive of love letters written by teenage Tupac Shakur (estimate $60/80,000). A separate press release is available for more information on both lots.

Hallie Freer
+1 212 606 7176
Derek Parsons
+1 212 606 7176

About Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as Advisory services for collectors, museums, corporations, artists, estates and foundations. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.

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* Estimates do not include buyer's premium or overhead premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer's premium and overhead premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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